Monday, January 31, 2011

guest blogger: Casey Ringger!

Joel and I have been privileged to know Casey Ringger. A funny part of our friendship is that Joel and I have separately been friends with her throughout high school, college, and now. It's been fun to know her as a girlfriend, and now enjoy the friendship with another married couple. Learn more about Casey by reading her blog
Casey enjoys writing about God, marriage, school, Charlie - her chocolate lab, and among so much more - recipes!

I'm so grateful for her sharing these great recipes with us!

Do you remember Orange Julius' at the mall? Well, thanks to my friend Katie R. I have a/the recipe for them :) Her family has a tradition of making them on Christmas Day. Art and I made them and they were awesome!!!
Orange Julius
1/3 can frozen OJ concentrate
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. sugar (I used less...just a little)
1/2 t. vanilla (if you have pure extract...use 1/2!)
5-6 ice cubes
Combine all in a blender until smooth. Makes about 3 cups.
Art and I tripled the recipe and it completely filled our blender!!!

This recipe I got from It is for Popcorn Chicken but with a twist. Boneless chicken wings with hot sauce always look and smell so good! So I combined ideas.
Popcorn Chicken
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I only used 1 1/2 for Art and I)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 ts. salt
1/2 ts. garlic powder

Mix the flour, salt, and garlic in a good sized bowl. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Toss the chicken in the flour mixture.
Use your saved butter wrapper to butter a 9x13 baking dish (or use actual butter). Spoon chicken in dish (I did not pour it out because I didn't want a lot of flour in the dish). Spread so they are in a single layer.
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Stir and bake for another 10 minutes. (I actually baked them for another 10 minutes after that).

They do not look pretty at this stage!!! But this is my twist: Pour the chicken into a container with a lid (or a plastic baggie). Pour some sauce (bbq, hot, etc.) inside and shake. Instant boneless chicken wings!! Art likes bbq and I like hot. I used the generic, regular hot sauce from Wal-mart.

Let me know how these recipes go over with your family!

Friday, January 28, 2011

look what's been baking in my oven!

I have enjoyed being home with a little more freedom since Mylin is growing and able to entertain herself a bit more :)
What I have been enjoying most on my days off (besides my sweet little miss and sweatpants...) is baking!
I have been making lots of bread and cookies
Soon I will get to use my breadmaker, a gift from my friend Leslie who no longer uses it!

Any breadmaker bread-making advice?!

Today I have made gingerbread and butterscotch cookies
I am SO excited about the gingerbread!
I bought a box of gingerbread graham crackers last week since they were on an after the holidays sale (I love gingerbread anything and eat graham crackers often!)
On the side of the box is this surprising and exciting recipe for actual gingerbread!

18 gingerbread graham's finely crushed (2 packages)
1/4 c. flour (I use whole wheat)
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 c. milk
1 egg
2 Tbsp honey

mix all and blend. bake at 350 in a 9x4ish pan for about 40 minutes (the recipe calls to make 3 mini loaves). there is also an optional frosting drizzle topping of powdered sugar and water/milk, mixed to desired consistancy and drizzled over top!

I also have been baking my mom's yummy chocolate chip cookies!
Cream together:
1/3 c. shortening
1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
Then stir in:
3 - 3 1/2 c. flour (again, I use whole wheat)
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
Then add 12 oz of your favorite chips - I don't do chocolate chip, but always butterscotch!
Bake at 375 for 10-14 minutes!

Let me know how they turn out when you try them!

What have you been baking lately?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

She's 7 months old!

Our sweet little miss is 7 months old today :)
Here are her 6 month pictures taken by my friend, Christina of Connelly Photography
Happy lips!
Sad lips :( These are my favorite people - I mean, seriously! How cute are they?!

I love the line 'Little Mismatched - which these clothes are from and also Rufflebutts, where I ordered her rufflebutt with her name on it!

My amazing mother-in-law created this hat! Check out her creations on Etsy site: Dreamland Baby
Kari also made this gorgeous tutu and headband for Mylin for Christmas - what a princess!

Friday, January 21, 2011

2011 Plans, Hopes, and Dreams

When designing this post, I have kept it on hold for many weeks as Joel and I have discussed what we wanted to write in it
I like the few things we've added, but frustrated with myself for the lack of hopes and dreams I have for this year
Where am I going?

This is what we've come up with so far:

...will find out where Franklin Electric's headquarters are moving to (which will determine if there is a move in the future for us!)
...will support Rachel as she finishes her degree
...celebrate his 5 year anniversary with FE
...hopes to lose 15 (more) pounds towards his weight loss goal! (he's lost about 10 in the last 2 months!)
...will train for running his first half marathon!

...will graduate with her M.A. from Huntington University!
...wants to find a part-time job as a counselor
...will train for her first half marathon (may do a run/walk combo...)
...will begin to become more involved in worship ministry at church

...will get more teeth!
...learn to walk and talk
...turn one year old :)
...will tell us 'I love you mommy' and 'I love you daddy'!!!!!!!!!! (we sure hope!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

an ode to my tunes

I went a little crazy on the past week and bought 7 c.d.s
Gungor - Ancient Skies
Gungor - Beautiful Things
500 Days of Summer Soundtrack
Imogen Heap - Speak for Yourself
Imogen Heap - I Megaphone
Imogen Heap - Ellipse
Frou Frou - Details

I have also been playing a lot of around our house when at home with Mylin during the day

She even has her own station - the Lullaby genre! (lllloooovvvveee it!!!)

Any tune recommendations?!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Guest blogger: Jill, my sister-in-law

The following post is from my sister-in-law Jill
You may remember a bit about her family from our Thanksgiving trip to Alabama
Jill is an amazing woman, someone I look up to and willingly sit at her feet soaking in wisdom
She is the wife of my brother Adam, and mother to 4 adorable kids, the eldest 2 (Maddie-6 and Hudson-almost 5) she has just begun to homeschool this year
On top of all that she has an almost 1 year old (Andre) that she has recently begun chasing around as he toddles from here to there
This post is about the middle girl, cute and quaint Cosi.

Sometimes things are clicking along and everything seems to break. Not sure why this happens. Usually the car alternator goes out, the dishwasher leaks, the T.V. dies (ok, the t.v. is 15 years old...) Things break down from wear and tear and that's just life.

It's harder to swallow when the breakage is due to a particular person. In the span of five days, my little girl broke our camera, our only stapler, and my favorite headband. Really? REALLY?? My favorite headband? With four children do you know how little time I have to go to the store and browse accessories?

It's just stuff. It's just stuff. It's just stuff. I remind myself. And it belongs to the Lord. Psalm 24:1 says, "The earth is the LORD's and everything in it." Pretty much covers the camera, the stapler, and my favorite headband which are now in the garbage. I think God lets this happen to remind me that things are temporary, but His Word lasts forever and gives peace to people in all times.

The culprit :) Cosette 'Cosi' Isabel, 3 years old

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mylin's 'going to sleep' schedule

Remember how I said I was going to get Mylin on a nap schedule?
Cut to us not sleeping through the night anymore and revamp the goal to getting her back on a nighttime sleeping schedule
After some encouragement, compassion, and loving challenge, Joel and I decided to the popular/sometimes unpopular Babywise approach

Nights prior to our trial:
7:00 pm nurse and go to bed, swaddled
12:00 am wake up screaming, try to soothe, end up nursing back to sleep
3:00 am repeat 12:00 am routine.......
7:00 am wake up, nurse, coax back to bed
9:00 am everybody wakes up and starts their day
Then a possible 3 30 min naps throughout the day

Here is how our trial went:

Night 1
7:30 pm nurse, swaddled, left in room awake
10:30 pm wake up screaming, diaper change, back to bed screaming covered with a blanket. every 5-8 minutes someone goes in to soothe
11:00 pm SILENCE AND SLEEPING! (I was so giddy I couldn't fall asleep then!)
3:15 am wake up crying, diaper change and back to bed, not screaming this time!
3:25 am silence!
7:00 am Mylin is up and happy for her day, lasting 12 hours without eating!
4 30 min naps throughout the day

Night 2
7:30 pm nurse and bed with just a blanket
12:15 am wake up crying, soothed once
12:30 am sleeping!
7:30 am up for day!
3 30 min naps throughout day

Night 3
7:15 pm bottle and bed (wide awake!) with blanket
9:15 pm wake up crying off and on, soothed twice by mom and dad
9:45 pm finally silence
7:30 am awake for day!

Night 4
7:15 pm nurse and bed with blanket
9:20 pm wake up crying, soothed
9:22 pm asleep
8:45 am up for the day!

Ok, so I scheduled this to post before I finished keeping track of our trial!
Here we are, 1 week later and little miss is sleeping 13 hours a night, occassionally waking up crying, Joel or I go in there to smooch on her and rub her belly and shortly after she is silently sleeping again

Thank you to Amy, who got my butt in gear to get my baby in gear and restore some of my life!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Christmas break goals review

Remember my Christmas break goals?
This is how they've gone:
1. Four appointments later - I have recovered from my root canal :)
2. We have rearranged 3 bedrooms, 1 living room, 2 closets and 1 entrance room - they are not complete, but much much better...the office is piles of stuff that we don't know what to do with/where to store. Overall I am so grateful for going through and 'purging' so many things we don't need or can give to someone/somewhere else (p.s. I am in love with organizing, so this wasn't really a chore to me but something fun!)
3. I didn't even touch our address book (this was totally my goal for LAST Christmas break too...whoops!)
4. I went above and beyond my reading goal!
5. We abandoned the day sleeping goal and focused on her night goal - post coming soon

I am so grateful for my 3 weeks of 'vacation' from school and internship responsibilities
I got some things done that I wanted to and also had lots of sleeping in and relaxing
I feel refreshed and ready to tackle my last semester!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

a day in the life of Eme

Emerald Yeti Draper
Born March 20-something 2008
This is how she spends her days:
(note: we find her in any variation of being covered after we get out of bed...this is just one of the best ones we've captured)

(we call this pose 'lemur dog')


Thursday, January 6, 2011

next on my reading list...

I had not been able to read a book for leisure since before Mylin's birth!
Before she arrived Joel and I reread Francine Rivers The Mark of the Lion series
The heroin is an amazing woman of Christ named Hadassah and we wanted to use it if our baby was a girl (hence Mylin Hadassah Draper)
6 loooooong months later I am deep into Francine Rivers latest saga, Marta's Legacy
I have finished Her Mother's Hope and am currently addicted to Her Daughter's Dream (more extensive review of this saga to come later)

Next on my reading list are 2 books my wonderful husband got me for Christmas:

The Busy Woman's Guide to a Balanced Life: quick and easy tips for managing the 10 most important areas of a woman's life: family, finances, friendship, health, hospitality, marriage, self, singles, spiritual life, and work (from Today's Christian Woman magazine)

Then comes my absolute favorite genre: historical fiction!
Journey to the Well by Diana Wallis Taylor

What have you been reading lately?

What historical fiction books can you recommend for me?!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mylin's 1st Christmas! (in pictures)

First Christmas present on our 'Christmas Eve' from Grandma Karen - a gingerbread book! (kind of creepy overall, about baking and eating gingerbread babies and people....)
Our first 'Christmas morning' together!!! (out of all those presents, the 2 in front are the only ones for Mylin - the rest are for our extended family exchanges!)

Mylin with her gifts and stocking stuffers (and random Christmas stuffed animals from my own childhood)

Notre Dame chairs for the Draper babies! From Bushie and Jodgie

Mylin and Jace each got a rider/walker from Great Bushie and Great Jodgie - at such a young age they are so willing to share :)

Traditional Merkle Christmas morning picture - all the kids on the fireplace. Another tradition, one of them is wailing - this year, the winner is Andre! (from left to right, Cosi, Luke, Ethan holding Mylin, Glenn, Maddie, Hudson holding Andre)

Grandma Karen's homemade stocking for Mylin, a gingergirl!
What a blessed Christmas season for us!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Draper's 12 days of Christmas

12 games played (rage, rook, settlers of catan, quiddler, scrabble slam, euchre, blokus, mental block, wits and wagers, apples to apples, phase 10 twist, wii tennis)
11 days off work for Joel
10 new toys for Mylin (including a sweet rider/walker dinosaur and 2 sing-a-ma-jigs. have you guys seen these toys yet?! they rule!!!!!!!!)
9 siblings to laugh, talk, eat, snack, and play games with
8 nieces/nephews/cousins to enjoy (7 Merkles/ 1 Draper)
7 rooms reorganized
6 days of someone else's homemade cooking!!!
5 times waking up daddy the night mommy had the flu
4 Christmas "mornings"
3 new books to read!
2 new solid foods for Mylin (homemade squash and carrots!)
1 little tooth in Mylin's mouth!