28 December 2008

Don't miss my Favorite Things of 2008 below!

As promised, the world famous:

Grandma Tillie's Christmas Cookies
Cookies
2C sugar
1C butter
3 eggs
1 C carnation evaporated milk
2t vanilla
1 1/2t salt

Cream the above ingredients together.
Add gradually the following ingredients to the creamed mixture:

2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
6C flour

Chill overnight (this is a must!)
Roll out on floured surface and cut out cookies. Make sure you use lots of flour when rolling them out. Bake at 350 for 5-7 minutes. Make sure cookie sheet is in middle of oven. Bottom of cookie should be very light brown.

Frosting:
2 lbs powdered sugar
1 C butter flavored Crisco
1/2 C milk
1 t vanilla
1/2 t cream of tartar

Blend ingredients and frost cooled cookies. Now, get creative with colors and toppings!

How about these boys?


26 December 2008

So, I’ve decided to assemble a list of some of my favorite things in 2008. Let me be clear, though, that unlike Oprah, I am not distributing samples of my favorite things to my readers. If I did, it would be in contest form, precious few would enter, and Christine would win. Sorry, Stine, not this time!

And so, without further ado:

Raechel’s Favorite Things of 2008

1. Toms Toms are new to the Myers family, but we’ve loved them from the get-go. They are traditional, Argentian shoes, made with all kinds of colors and fabrics, and recently, made small enough for little feet too. The cool thing abou Toms is that, for every pair you buy, a pair is given to a needy child as well. Ryan and Oliver each scored a pair of Toms for Christmas this year, and they’re very handsome (the shoes and the boys!)


2. AnthropologieMade famous for it’s unique fashions, original home d├ęcor and always surprising found objects, Anthropologie is definitely on the pricey side but a fun treat, even just for browsing.

3. AutomobloxI know, I talk about these things all the time, but I just can’t get tired of them! They’re pretty to look at, excellent exercise for two-year-old fine motor skills, and recently on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Don’t tell Oliver, but there may be some full-sized Automoblox in his near future!

4. The Parish Cookbook (a.k.a. “Saints Bearing Casseroles”)You can read all about it here if you like! This is a compilation of over 400 recipes from the awesome homemakers in our little Parish and was created to raise funds for our new building. Worth every bit of the $20! (Let me know if you’d like one!)

5. MonstersWho knew that monsters would be such a big deal in the close of the year? I guess I’d say it all started with the revival of Ice Bat, a gift to newborn Oliver from the Cases on a visit through town. Since then, he’s been reading “Leonardo, the Terrible Monster” by Mo Willems and has recently developed a real fervor for a shop on Etsy.com that hand-makes monster shirts. All of Oliver’s monsters are friendly, though he occasionally informs us (complete with sign language) that he is “SCARED!” of the monsters, but still wants to tell them, “Hi, monster!” What a kook!


6. Mice – Like monsters, mice have surfaced as a recent favorite. You all by now have met Mr. Mouse, have you not? He remains the original mouse in Oliver’s life. Christmas, however, has threatened his position as favored mouse with the arrival of Reepicheep (near and dear to our hearts since the story Dr. Grant shared about Reepicheep at Evie’s memorial service) and three little, soft mice from Auntie Rebecca and Uncle Caleb. Fear not, Mr. Mouse, you’re not going anywhere!

(And apparently, when you get new mice, the best thing to do is put them right in your pants!)


7. Penzeys - I love cooking. And now, I love Penzeys spices! They have only a few storefronts, so I enjoy them by catalog and internet only. Penzeys has the best prices on the freshest herbs and spices. You'll want to replace your entire spice cabinet! I highly recommend the vanilla and the Sandwich Sprinkle (that stuff makes a grilled cheese sandwich worth writing home about!)

8. The Stendig Wall Calendar – It’s huge! (4'x3') And, it’s based on the design by Massimo Vignelli in 1966. Recognized as a contemporary classic, the original is on permanent display in New York's Museum of Modern Art. My Mom ordered one for Ryan’s home office this year for Christmas. I’m sure you’ll see plenty of it in 2009 since we take so many photos of Oliver playing in that room.

9. Twitter – Do you Twitter? If you do (or, if you don’t and you want to know what it’s all about), see the “twictionary” Dr. Grant assembled on his Eleventary blog.

10. Rock Climbing – We love it! It’s such a great way to go out and be active together. I’m chomping at the bit now to use the new harness and shoes Ryan and Rebecca gave me for Christmas!

11. Charlie Brown Christmas – Well, it’s been a favorite anyway. Now, it’s just more of a fixture. We’ve managed to keep Oliver from nearly all television (even the occasional Sesame Street) this December and only allowed him a once (and sometimes twice) daily viewing of this holiday favorite. He loves to make Snoopy’s funny noises right along with him. I guess it could be much worse! J

12. McCreary’s Irish Pub – Fish and chips, anyone? Or, in my case, Bunratty (chicken strips & chips) anyone? The pub has been a big part of 2008, as it was in 2007 as well. It’s not a place to go if you want to be alone – we always run into people we know when we go, even people we haven’t seen in years and who live states away – the whole world seems to converge on McCreary’s Irish Pub downtown Franklin!

13. Blogging - Goodbye, Facebook, you’ve been a faithful friend and now I’m moving on. I took up the blogging habit in June this year and have loved the sub-culture I’ve discovered. My two current faves?

a. A complete stranger who loves Jesus, has four children 3 and under, and whose newborn just survived and was cured of a prenatal, fatal heart condition.

b. My witty, crazy, God-fearing, husband loving, baby making, vampire love saga reading, simple life living, college roommate, Christine.

14. Signing Time – We’ve been watching and learning with Alex and Leah all year and, as a result, I have a toddler who can sign more than most adults (including his mother!). This is a cool, educational video series that we borrow one-by-one from our local library that teaches ASL to children. Want to know how to sign turtle, donkey or silly? Check them out!

15. Etsy.com – This is the online place to go if you love interesting, unique, totally awesome hand made things! You can also have your own shop on Etsy to sell the cool things you make with all your spare time. Oliver is a particular fan, as I said, of the “monster shirts” shop.

16. Chi – This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I don’t actually have straight hair. I wish I did. This is where the flat iron called Chi comes in. Dare I venture to say (in the words of Katy Snow) that this is the single most “change-your-life” product of 2008? “Girl, it will change your life”.

17. Pottery Barn/Benjamin Moore color swatches – They’re free! Just stop in to Pottery Barn, ask them for this season’s swatches, and you go home with a book of approximately 20 2”x3” swatches of tried and true colors that Pottery Barn recommends. It’s been a life-saver at our house, and since I’ve been “stopping in” since 2006, I’ve got quite a collection now!

18. Parish – We love our church! We are so grateful to God for our awesome covenant community and the impact it has made on our lives in 2008.

19. GPS – This, too, will change your lives, folks! Have you seen this surprising list of the top 25 endangered species? Add reading maps (and getting lost!) to the list! We scored a free Garmin gps mid-November this year, and it’s so wonderful to not have to worry about printing directions or getting lost (or finding particular food stops on the go) anymore! What will it be like for Oliver to grow up never knowing life without it? Wild. Absolutely wild.

20. Peppermint Mocha – I just had my first cup of coffee this year. Yes, of my life. Given, it was such a fru-fru cup of coffee it was more like a glorified hot chocolate, but I did it, nonetheless. Props to Starbucks for the “short peppermint mocha twist with peppermint whip”!

21. Garage & Consignment sales – Thanks to the early spring and late fall we enjoy in middle Tennessee, we also reap the benefits of a 9-month-long garage sale and consignment season. Talk about sub-cultures, Rebecca and I may be the ring leaders of this one. Beginning in March and ending in October, we are faithful to be up and out of the house before 7:00 every Saturday morning. As a result, we have been able to clothe our families and furnish our homes for “pennies on the dollar” as my Mom calls it! Seriously, folks, we rarely buy new clothes – especially not for Oliver. And, our home is outfitted with at least 50% “one man’s junk”!

22. Grandma Tillie’s Christmas Cookies – I don’t actually know Grandma Tillie, but I thank her profusely for her Christmas cookie recipe. And G.T., wherever and whomever you are, I hope you don’t mind if I share this phenomenal recipe with my friends here: (Okay, I'm having trouble posting the recipe here. Click here for the recipe).

23. Ethiopia – I love Ethiopia because somewhere in that African country, whether yet born or unborn, exist my two sweet nephews whom we hope to meet and make ours sometime in 2009. Rebecca and Caleb, we thank you for and support you in your deep passion for the orphans of Ethiopia.

24. 2007 Moscato Frizante – My all-time favorite wine. Hands down. Get out of my way!

25. Franklin, TN – If there were a Franklin city song, I’d be singing it now! We love this little city. We love the downtown, we love the landscape, but really, we just adore the people.

24 December 2008


"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel

—which means, God with us." Matthew 1:23

We are just returning from a Christmas Eve hike to visit Evie's grave site. It was, of course, a bittersweet visit. We wish so badly that she were with us at home right now; growing, rolling over and smelling like a baby. But, it was nice to visit the place we buried her - to remember her. And more, to remember where she really is.

I love what the angel told Mary in Matthew 1:23. She was to call the baby's name "Immanuel" because it means "God with us."

God with us.

Not just in spirit. Not just in our hearts or as an idea. God sent his son, physically, to Earth. To live, to suffer and grieve and to love.

He was here.

And he died, and on the third day he rose again. Now he's in heaven. And because of this, he is still with us.

Evie was with us for just a little while. She died and now she is in heaven with Jesus. She is not with us.

God with us here.

God with her there.

I look forward to (and long for) the day that I will stand with my daughter in His presence, worshipping Him!

---------------------

I took this shot just as we were leaving the woods. Can you find Scout?
(Who, by the way, was in hog heaven!)
Oliver, dressed as a lumberjack, ready for a play date with Max and Tanner.
Two nights ago, Oliver had a big idea that he could sleep by the Christmas tree. I helped him get set up with a pillow from our bed and a blanket from the living room. It was a very fun game for a long time!

I know I've already published this, but I have something to add. At our Christmas Eve service at Parish tonight we sang just the 3rd verse of "Good Christian Men, Rejoice" and it just felt appropriate to add:

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice!
Now ye need not fear the grave:
Peace! Peace!
Jesus Christ was born to save;
He hath opened heaven's door,
And man is blessed forevermore.
Christ was born to save.
Christ was born to save.

21 December 2008

(This is our Christmas letter for the year. We mailed it to as many of our family and friends as we could. We are also posting it here for those of you that we missed. For those of you that follow my blog regularly, very little of this will be new information. But, read on anyhow! Christmas cheer!)

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings from Tennessee! We are so humbled and grateful to have this opportunity to celebrate with you another year full of God’s grace and mercy in our lives. He had been faithful to supply our every need this year, and for that we give Him thanks and praise!

January marked the end of Ryan’s time with Just1Word and the beginning of the long road of starting a design business of his own (a long-term goal we had no idea we’d have the opportunity to pursue so quickly). Uber Design + Marketing has been in full swing for nearly 12 months now, and Ryan has done a tremendous job of getting the business up and running. He has served in the capacities of human resources, accounting, art director, project management, marketing and senior designer all in one, and is really getting the hang of it (although someday we’d love to hire other people to help out with some of those things).

Operating a household on a freelance budget has taken some adjusting, mostly because of how sporadic it is. There are no bi-weekly paychecks or company benefits packages – it’s been up to us to work all of that out on our own. The scariest, yet most beautiful part of it all is that we are literally depending on God daily to provide for our family. While Ryan may have several projects one week, there may not be any other projects on his calendar beyond the weekend. God has been faithful to supply Ryan with work, sometimes just enough to get us by, popping up out of nowhere, and sometimes more work than one man can accomplish. It has been a great exercise in trusting God, and He has never failed us yet!

In April, God granted us the immeasurable blessing of gazing upon the face of our sweet baby girl Evie Grace. We didn’t get long to be with her, and we wish so badly we could be writing something much different about our sweet daughter in this Christmas letter. But, we count it a tremendous privilege to have been a part of her short life and to have a little piece of ourselves in glory even now. We are forever changed.

Evie’s short life has already afforded us the opportunity to come into contact with people we otherwise would not have known and to share the Gospel hope with them. God has shown us a foretaste of heaven this year in the way he has surrounded us with the body of Christ, meeting our practical needs of meals and such, as well as relational needs of encouragement and friendship. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to those of you who have mourned with us, prayed for us, and walked along side of us. We are grateful beyond words for your support.

Oliver just turned two in October, and the cute, fumbly little baby we had last Christmas is becoming a sweet, interesting, charismatic little boy! He cracks us up and brings us to our knees just about every day and we love it! He is such a precious gift and we are grateful and humbled to be his parents.

God has given us many different interests and talents to pursue this year as well and it has been fun to involve ourselves in such varied activities. This fall Ryan had the opportunity to teach as an adjunct professor at O’More College of Design in Franklin. Beginning in August, Raechel has begun studying to become a certified birth doula and is currently a Labor Support Professional (Raechel Myers, LSP!!). She’s already attended a handful of births and is very passionate and excited about the opportunities she’s being given and the women that she’s helping. Raechel has also taken a position at Parish as the Nursery Coordinator, which keeps her busy for about 5-10 hours a week. But, one of our most exciting interests this year has been our new attention to rock climbing at the indoor crag here in town. It’s been fun for us to do as a couple and it’s a great way to be active and compete on a more level playing field.

Friends, this is a year worth celebrating! And, more importantly, this is a season worthy of celebration! God has come to Earth and is alive and working in our lives. He has been faithful to his promise in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”. This Christmas we celebrate that God has supplied our greatest need through the birth of his Son, Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God, the gospel is true!

Grace & Peace,

Ryan, Raechel & Oliver Myers

20 December 2008

A pair of very tiny Toms!
(Hopefully, Oliver's as big a fan as we are, or they'll just keep looking this new and he'll keep wearing his wellies).

(Originally posted on Dr. Grant's "The Quick and the Dead" blog. But, worth a re-post!)


Planned Parenthood and the other members of its pro-abortion coalition have petitioned president-elect Obama in a 55-page memo to bail-out it's already cash-rich industry with more than $1 Billion in new infanticide subsidies.

Its requests are not limited to major funding increases, however. They also include repealing policies that have "any limiting effect whatsoever" on organizations from being able to engage in abortion advocacy abroad and enshrining “reproductive health rights” in the legal system.

According to Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser these fiscal demands would actually increase federal spending for reproductive health and abortion by $1.5 billion. She calls it “the big abortion bail-out.”

If Obama's new administration acquiesces, as he has indicated it will, the next four years will herald a new level of global triage and genocide.

Yesterday, I was picking up downstairs and noticed that something was a little different than I'd left it. Evidently, Oliver took it upon himself to do a little redecorating. Can you see what he did?

Oliver manages to "un-make" our bed at least once a day.
He also manages to "un-make" our kitchen cabinets.
Fortunately, his head is just the right size for my sifter.

This is Owen. He's Oliver's good buddy who stopped by yesterday with an apple juice slushy to share with his friend. The boys played for a couple of hours and even took some time to play "naptime" and giggle in bed with some books. We hope we get to have Owen and his family around for many years to come!

18 December 2008

Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies!
(from the December issue of Martha Stewart Living)


makes six dozen
Ingredients
1C all-purpose flour, plus more for surgace
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
5 T unsalted butter, softened
1/4 C sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 t pure peppermint extract
8 large candy canes or 30 peppermint candies, crushed
2 pounds white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, and add egg, then yolk, beating well after each addition. Beat in peppermint extract. Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until just incorporated. Shape dough into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).
  2. Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut out circles, and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Roll and cut scraps once. Freeze cookies until firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining disk.
  3. Bake until cookies are dry to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer parchment, with cookies, to wire racks, and let cool. (Undecorated cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.)
  4. Sift crushed candy, and separate larger pieces from dust, reserving both. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water. Remove from heat. Dunk cookies into melted chocolate. Using a fork, turn to coat, let excess drip off, and gently scrape bottom against edge of bowl. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of either candy pieces or dust on top. Repeat, sprinkling half the cookies with pieces and the rest with dust. Refrigerate until set, up to 3 hours. Decorated cookies are best served the same day.

We'll let you know how they turn out! (They smell great!)

Update: So, they taste great, but they are a LOT of work! Sort of an all-day project. And, all the white chocolate isn't cheap! Maybe we'd be better off buying a box of thin mints and spending the time playing a game or reading or something. Whew!