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Valentine’s Fortune Cookies

Here’s a sweet little DIY for your next Valentine’s Day (though you could make them as favors for any party, wedding, etc). Part of it involves tracing and coloring too, so even little hands can help.

Fortunes waiting to fill.

 

Valentine’s Day Fortune Cookies

Supplies:

Thick paper (I used linen paper we had leftover from business mailings, but cardstock would be perfect. If you have none other, printer paper would work in a pinch.)

Circle to trace, approx 5″ diameter but that’s personal preference

Colored pencils, etc, to decorate (unless you have decorated cardstock or want to print designs)

Scissors

Double-sided tape or glue

Colored and cut out circles

Instructions:

(1) Trace circles onto your paper. At 5″ diameter, I was able to get 3 circles per page. I used my toddler’s play Ikea soup pot. Perfect. Decorate and cut them out (see above).

Lay the fortune in the middle of the circle.

See the dots of tape along the upper edge.

(2) Using the scrap paper, write your fortunes on little pieces and cut them out. They shouldn’t be longer than the diameter of your circles so the edges don’t stick out. They can be a few lines long though, and then simply folded over.

(3) Lay out one circle and place fortune in the middle. Fold the lower edge of the circle up to meet the upper; secure with tape or glue.

(4) Put your index fingers inside either end and use your thumbs to create a fold along the opposite, closed edge of the circle. Once the fold is there, apply tape/glue to one inner edge. Hold a few seconds so it adheres.

Use your thumbs to create a fold on the opposite edge.

(5) Ta-da! Admire. And repeat and repeat and repeat.

 

For this occasion, I used Bible verses about love to fill my fortune cookies. There are a ton of good ones in the Bible (obviously), but here are those that I used. We had a mix of couples and singles, men and women, and all of these worked with whoever happened to grab it:

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“Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.  If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.”  Song of Songs 8:7a

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“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

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“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”  Proverbs 10:12

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“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”  Romans 12:9

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“If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”  1 John 4:12

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“God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  Romans 5:5

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“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  1 John 3:18

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“Whatever is true, whatever is noble… whatever is lovely… think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8

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“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

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“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  1 John 4:7-8

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“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”  1 John 4:16

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“We love because he first loved us.”  1 John 4:19

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“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”  Jeremiah 29:11

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Valentine's Fortune Cookies on display

Completed fortune cookies, stuffed with love.

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Life in the Moments

Boyhood is a film that took 12 years to make, shooting a scene from an adolescent boy’s life (Ellar Coltrane) once every year. The result in the film is a life comprised of moments, seemingly insignificant conversations, situations, events that make up his childhood.

In the last year of filming, his mother is suddenly stricken with the weightiness of her baby boy leaving for college and laments that all her life’s milestones, apart from death, are over. As the audience, however, we haven’t experienced any of those “milestones”. And if we are to assume we’ve been led on a journey through their lives as they’ve experienced it, then that’s not what his life has been, either. Those life events mark time, sure. They’re calendar events. But that’s not life.

Life is in the mundane. It’s in snow angels, napping in the backseat of your parents’ van, laughing with your husband, video games with your brother. That leads to our purpose as humans, too: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God,” (1 Cor 10:31, ESV).

My challenge lately has been to find joy and glory in tiny moments. There are entire days when I don’t leave the house. It’s January in Pennsylvania: we got 5 inches of snow one day last week, followed by another 2-3 the next day, and that was on top of a preexisting layer. Point is, there’s a lot of snow. Add to that the sheer number of layers needed for me and my two boys to put on in a short enough time so that no one overheats while the rest are still piling on the clothes. Brrr. There aren’t a lot of calendar events going on these days.

Our lives are lived in about 1500 sq. ft. But there’s so much! These little people are growing and playing and living their lives right in front of me. And so am I. This is my life.

It’s tough when I’m cooking dinner and the noodles are getting squishy plus people are coming over after bedtime so we have to get the house clean but my husband is still working — oh, but look. My toddler is doing his elbow dancing for the baby and making him laugh. … … Will he do that again later when it’s a better time for me to stop and watch? Maybe at a time when I can sit? … … … hard to tell. Better watch and enjoy these joyful little people God is letting me take care of and take pleasure from.

If you made a movie of my life, it would have a lot of singing “Happy Birthday” with repetitive refrains to plastic pigs and all-day orange pajamas and messy mealtimes and conversations with my husband while we brush our teeth.

You say grace before meals.

All right.

But I say grace before the play and the opera,

And grace before the concert and pantomime,

And grace before I open a book,

And grace before sketching, painting,

Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing,

And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

G.K. Chesterton

My two sons playing together

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Free Ice Cream

Hello, freebie-loving folks!

Free soft serve ice cream through the 8th at Burger King! I just left there on my way home from an appointment and was very pleased with the head-sized cone. And might I suggest getting a cone. I mean really – t’s half the fun.

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Show this coupon on your smartphone or print it out before you leave. 

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Almond Chocolate Chip Biscotti

I’m a stay-at-home mom, and my husband only goes into the office two days a week. So when it’s breakfast time, I usually cook something. Don’t get me wrong – I love my Cracklin’ Oat Bran and Golden Grahams and organic pumpkin flax seed granola. But when we got married and didn’t have jobs, I baked or cooked or preserved or otherwise made everything possible to save money. Cooked breakfasts and hesitation towards store bought bread are holdovers from that.

One of our long time favorites (except when I’m in early pregnancy stages and can’t stand the idea of coffee) is biscotti. If I’m on top of things and have lemon on hand, and if it’s late summer and we have fresh blueberries, then that’s my favorite flavor. But for the other 10 months, almond and chocolate chips make a perfect sweet/savory blend. And, this is probably the only thing in which I don’t overhaul the chocolate chips. I know. Crazy. But trust me – if I like it like this way, it’s at least worth a try.

Notes: You can use any stir-ins you want. If it’s lemon and blueberry, juice a fourth to half a lemon and add some peel peel. But experiment! It’s your breakfast. 

Almond Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book

Prep: 20 min

Bake: 60 min

Makes about 2 bar pans of biscotti

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups   all-purpose flour (or a mix of whole wheat and AP, which is our favorite)

3 tsp      baking powder

1 tsp            salt

1 cup   sugar

3                  eggs

5 tbs            butter, melted

1 handful     slivered almonds

1 handful     chocolate chips

 

Directions

– In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Make a well in the center and place eggs and butter. Stir just until it starts to come together (and liquids won’t just coat the stir-ins). Add almonds and chips and stir until combined (it’ll still be a little crumbly).

– Preheat oven to 325*.

– On a large bar pan, dump out half of the mixture and form it into a long log. Pat it down until it’s flat and level. Use your hands to keep straight sides (tapered ends will burn). This can vary – I like ours to be longer, thinner, flatter pieces, but you’ll find what you like. Repeat with the other half of the dough on the same pan.

– Bake for 30 minutes. (Rotate halfway if your oven isn’t consistent throughout.)

– Remove from oven. Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut the logs lengthwise into pieces that look more like your traditional biscotti. Arrange, cut sides up, on either one or two bar pans (just so they’re not touching, they can be as close as you want.)

– Bake another 30 minutes. (You can also shut off your oven and leave them in to dry, if you happen to be making these the night before.)

 

Enjoy! Your very own cafe breakfast!… just don’t forget the coffee!

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Spring Is for Dancing

Spring has finally arrived! And to help put you in the right mood to enjoy this weather (wherever you are, whatever your actual temperatures), here is a FREE playlist of up-and-coming artists from Google Play! The tracks I downloaded myself are: “Shelter Song” – Temples – I can’t place my finger on who they sound like, but perfect alt-psychedelic rock. “Wut” – LE1F – Bullet-fast rap laid overtop Macklemore-esq saxophone hooks. “You Go Down Smooth” – Lake Street Drive – Mowtown voice with modern rock music. Feel good, upbeat, perfect for springtime dancing! “Pathetic” – Erik Hassle – Regardless of the title, feel-good R&B tune channeling Frank Ocean’s voice and Justin Timberlake’s style, with a just a touch of techno background. “Tongues” – Joywave – More alt-rock. Also upbeat with a nice hook. Told you this was a dancing playlist. And finally, a music video to whet your whistle for my kind of music.

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Winter Blues

I know – hush the thought! Winter is only here another 11 days! BUT… that doesn’t mean we don’t all need a little help on the winter blues.

This is a good article from CCEF on advice for moms at home with kids, often inside for days… weeks… months on end. I know this year has been particularly brutal: our plans for using the adorable wooden sled given to our little tyke for Christmas have been frozen at a standstill. And, as I’m pregnant, I’ve been particularly prone to lying on the couch for extended periods. Lemme tell ya’ – that don’t help. This happened two years ago when my first trimester aligned with the first three months of the year. It’s particularly hard for me to feel happy when I physically feel sick.

But this time, at least, I’ve already got one fully-baked bun to play with. One of the pieces of advice in the article is to make a conscious effort to smile at your kids. It is largely due to my child that I have been smiling these past few months. I’m very thankful for the need to change his diaper and feed him lunch – not usually at that moment, but as I’m playing with him on the changing pad, I’ve realized more than once how much better I feel right then than I have in hours. Having a purpose has been healthy for me.

There’s also a follow-up article with more practical tips, such as reaching out to others in the same situation or serving someone. These go along with the need for purpose. Both of these physically direct your thoughts to the larger picture instead of the minutiae of day-to-day indoors.

So, here’s hoping this advice won’t be needed much longer (this season). I know tomorrow’s forecast for my little town is “Partially sunny and delightful.”

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Freebie of the day! Big is available as a free HD download for Google account holders. 

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Laura Mvula

 

This is just to make you happy today. I’ve heard most of this album, and she’s talented. Her videos are beautiful. And this one is just great.

Also, her facebook page is very active – one of the best kept I’ve seen. Check it out if you like her!

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Free patterns! March is out like a lion, in like a lamb - at least, here’s hoping!

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Lecrae, BET, and Kanye

My brother has been working in film for a while now, mostly independently, but also professionally. He attended NYU Film School in Singapore before they closed their doors, and that was after graduating from the Reformed Theological Seminary. We went to Creation a few times growing up, listened to DC Talk and John Reuben, but mostly listened to the radio. We went to public school and dances. We went to the movies. The topic of Christians intersecting with the world at large has been a common one in our family.

Recently my brother sent this article to me about Lecrae, a Christian rapper who is trying to break out into mainstream music culture, with pretty good success. He’s been getting a lot of flak about it from his Christian fans, who have actually said they’re afraid non-Christians will get their sinner cooties on him and his music. It’s a weak faith that’s afraid of sinners.

Most of what I have to say has been covered in this article. It’s a great one. Lecrae himself has most of the wisdom, as he’s done a lot of thinking about his life in this intersection. But as I’ve said before, our job as Christians should be to make the best  –blank–  possible. If you’re a doctor, do your best to save lives and stay on the cutting-edge of medical advances. If you’re an author, write the best possible books and articles you can. If you’re a web developer or some other desk job, be the best employee you can. If you’re a church, excel in everything, including the music, building aesthetics, even coffee. Whatever you do, glorify God by being the best at it you can. Don’t judge your success by how many times you say Jesus’ name, but by your effectiveness in being a man or woman of God in the world.

There’s a quote often attributed to Francis of Assisi, “Preach often, and, if necessary, use words.” No one’s sure that’s from him, but he did say something similar (just not as quippy):

“…love one another, as the Lord says: ‘This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.’ And let them show their love by the works they do for each other, according as the Apostle says: ‘let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.'”

I think that’s better, anyway.

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Wondering about the title? You’ll have to read the Lecrae article to see how it all works. 

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Free song o’ the day! Speaking of the devil having all the good music… Amy Winehouse, “Back to Black“, is free on Google Play. I’m not gonna condone the content, but I love her style and how she brought sultry jazz back to mainstream. 

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Free Tunes – 20 Feb ’14

(Remember when that was a word separate from the “i-” prefix?)

I l-o-o-o-v-e free things. I’m signed up to a multitude of email blasts for daily free items. For example, I don’t think I’ve bought tea in years – folks always giving away samples of tea.

Happy Black History Month! To commemorate, Google and I are giving you free music (I’m just directing you to it… it’s not actually coming out of my pocket, much as I would love). There are, to be precise, three free songs and perhaps an entire album. (I previously downloaded the Kanye West album “Yeezus” out of curiosity and the inability to resist something free, so I can’t tell if it’s free on Google at this moment, but it has been for a few months up until now, anyway.)

Though there are only three (as opposed to the usual dozen or more) offerings, one is Prince and one is Missy Elliott: “Lose Control“, one of her best (but also the uncensored version). And the last one is by Parliament…? Sorry. I’m not that cultured. I am, after all, a WASP… (*sigh*).

You don’t need me! Being signed up for Google music releases gives you these notifications directly – they always include free music, games, apps, or shows. 

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Knitting = Love

Guys, I love knitting. I learned how to crochet in 5th grade from my teacher, Mrs. Lingenfelder. We’d have free time where we watched educational videos each day, and my best friend and I sat by her desk instead, learning to crochet chains. From 5th grade ad infinitum, I crocheted everything I possibly could (without reading a pattern, meaning everything with fairly straight edges). Friends and family got laptop cases, camera baggies, Game Boy pouches, and scarves – oh they got scarves.

But my pastor’s wife… she knits. She’d be knitting away during sermons, parties, Bible studies. What beautiful creations! And how do those two needles work like that?? At the time, the friend giving me job training also knit, so Heather taught me the cast on, Stacey taught me the knit, and the Internet taught me the rest.

My first real pattern was a sock. I remember following the instructions and holding it up going, “I have no idea what this is doing.”  And then I got to the end, and voila! it was a sock! Patterns are like magic!

But my first actual attempt at following a pattern was a washcloth. It took me so long – it was the only thing I gave my Granny that year because it was such an accomplishment. So here: this is a link to one free knit washcloth pattern, gratis Knit Picks. Maybe this’ll be the start of your knitting fancy, too.

(By the way, that was just two years ago I picked up knitting, and I’m currently working on spinning yarn for a sweater for my husband. It’s like “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” – careful. You don’t know what you’re getting into.)

KnitPicks.com is offerng a year of free weekly washcloth patterns. Sign up for their newsletter to get them all!