Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 31 CHRISTmas: Quarters

Today we had planned to leave quarters by the candy vending machines in the mall.   We had hoped some kids would get a fun surprise when they realized they could get their own jumbo bubble gum, instead of asking their parents for quarters!  However, we arrived at the mall too late, and it was closed up early for the night.  Guess there aren't any parties going on in the mall on New Years Eve.

So we drove to the nearest gas station that had a vacuum machine, and we left three dollars worth of quarters right next to the slot.  Hope someone enjoys having a free session!

After we were done, the kids automatically asked "What's our service for tomorrow?"  I told them we were done with our month-long service, because tomorrow is a new month.  "Oh", the kids all sighed.  "That's too bad."

We will continue to do service for each other, and look for ways to serve others, but it won't be as documented as our month-long tribute to CHRISTmas was.  It's been an amazing month, and I think we accomplished our goal to bring CHRIST back in CHRISTMAS.

Thanks for following along, on our journey.  We sure loved it, and hope it brought a smile to your face as well.  Happy New Year!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 30 CHRISTmas: Hospital Donation

(Sorry for the blurry picture.  Cell phone camera.)

Having been frequent in-patients at the hospital, we know that sometimes your day requires a pick-me-up. Tests...X-rays...bloodwork...constant monitoring...etc, it's especially hard when you are a child, and sometimes don't understand why you can't just go home.  Sitting in your hospital bed, day after day, isn't much fun.

So today, we put together four sets of jumbo coloring books and crayons, and donated them to the Pediatric Wing of the hospital that we were at last year, with Kimble, when he had his lymph node infection.  We told the receptionist that we didn't have anyone specific in mind, and didn't know how many kids they had, but that we would like to offer these gifts to some of the patients in that wing.

She told us that coloring books/crayons are a hot commodity in the hospital, and they are always struggling with keeping up with the demand.  She assured us that they would be well received, and thanked us for the wonderful service we were doing. 

Each day, we are so thankful that Kimble is healthy and strong.  We know that mishaps happen, and we could find ourselves back in the hospital again next week.  But as for now, if we are able to help other kids that are undergoing their own health struggles, then we are happy to do it.  Even if it's just to bring a book, or a coloring book, or a toy, or a blanket; that small act of service on our part is multiplied with gratefulness by the child who receives it.

Day 29 CHRISTmas: Doctor's Office

We had some toys that Kimble didn't need in his collection, so instead of giving them to a thrift store, we gathered them up, sanitized them in a tub of bleach water (as seen above) and got them ready for a new home.  We brought the box of toys, which included blocks, trains, chunky toys, superheros, and wild animals, to Kimble's Cardiologist.  There, in his office waiting room, we placed the toys on the shelf, for all the patients and families to use during their time there.

Since we are there often, we've noticed that besides the train table, the office waiting room didn't have anything else for the kids to play with.  Now, there is enough toys for many kids to enjoy time after time.  We really enjoyed this service, and the office staff was very grateful (and surprised) at the donation.  We also gathered up some books to donate, for the kids to enjoy too.  We had chunky picture books for the babes, and chapter books for the older kids.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 28 CHRISTmas: Plant Starters

A few weeks ago, a friend gave me a pot full of aloe vera starters.  Her cactus plant grows like crazy, and she is always trying to find friends to give a plant a home.  Last year, she gave us a few plants, including the big aloe plant you see in the left of the picture above.  It came in handy, when Kimble burned his hands this last year.

I thought this would be a good service for today.  We divided up four sections of the aloe plant, and placed them into our lovely transport containers (read: plastic cups).  We nestled them in the soil nice and good, gave them a drink of water, and set off down the neighborhood to find new homes for the aloe plants.

We told the new plant owners that the aloe is great for burns, among other things.  They like sunlight, but not directly.  They could feel free to re-pot it and add soil at their convenience.  It put a smile on everyone's faces.  It's nice to get a new plant.

Day 27 CHRISTmas: Two Extra Kids

On this day, before the sun came up, our service began.  We got a call in the early hours of the morning, from my friend, saying she was heading to the hospital to have her baby.  We watched her two older kids for most of the day.  They had a great time helping with chores, eating lots of snacks, and playing games with my kids, and were thrilled when news came that they had a new baby brother.  They left about 3pm, when their daddy came to pick them up.  It was a good day.

Day 26 CHRISTmas: Freshly Baked Cookies

Today we made a big batch of chocolate chip cookies for the police station.  All the kids, minus Kimble and I, went with The Husband to deliver them.  Kennedy got the honor of holding the cookies.

As I was making the cookies, Kennedy said "Why aren't we giving the policemen some donuts?"

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 25 CHRISTmas: FireStation

As much as I like to remain in my Santa Pants all day long on Christmas, I changed my clothes into a pair of jeans (which felt tight....too many helpings of potatoes!) and had Keaton and The Husband accompany me down the street to our Fire Station.

Hot from the oven, was a loaf of of Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake, to offer to our Firemen in thanks for their service.  I actually made two loaves, with one intended for the Policemen too, that share the building.  But upon inverting the loaf to get it out of the pan, it sort of fell apart.  Darn it. I knew I should have bought some of those disposable loaf pans.

Anyway, I couldn't bring them crumbles, so I left that loaf at home (which was immediately gobbled up  by all the kids, and The Husband, who proclaimed it his favorite bread ever and couldn't stop eating it...) and wrapped up the non-crumbly loaf to give away.  We'll just have to do something for the Police Station tomorrow.

Keaton practiced what he would say, the entire drive over.  "Our family has been doing service everyday this month.  Today, our service is for you.  Thank you for working on Christmas."  It was really cute to hear him work so hard to get it right.  Once we got there, we rang the buzzer, and the door was immediately opened by four Firemen, who saw Keaton standing there with the loaf and they said "Oh, you brought us a present, eh?"

Keaton, overwhelmed, just nodded his head.  "Is it cake?  Did you make it all by yourself?"  Keaton shook his head "no", still lip-locked.

We stepped in.  The Husband said "That's the best bread ever. Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake, and it's hot from the oven."  The Fireman took the loaf gingerly, because it's delicate and hot from the oven, and he said "Thank you!".  We nudged Keaton, which brought him out of his stupor, and he finally gave his intended speech.  The Firemen listened carefully, and with sincerity, thanked Keaton again and wished us a Merry Christmas.  It was pretty cool.  

This service thing is really making me happy.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve!

As per our tradition, we took our Christmas Eve picture.  It was a delightful feeling to put on the Santa Pants that I've been wearing for the past 12 years (we didn't have them the first two Christmases) and have them be nice and loose on me (much different than the tightness of last year).  I really hope next Christmas finds me needing to buy a much smaller size, because they are falling off me.  I hope.

Here is a picture of the kids.  They are getting so big!

Day 24 CHRISTmas: Gift in a Jar

Today we made some delicious Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Sauce. I'm tellin' ya. It was like liquid Reeses.  So amazing. UH-MAZING!  It can be used as an ice-cream topper, or an apple-dipper, or shoveled in by the mouthful (which was the option we chose).

Kolby and The Husband went with me, to deliver these jars to the women I work with at church, in Young Womens.  I'm so grateful for such wonderful leaders that inspire me to do my best, as we teach and direct such a great group of girls. 

I hope they enjoyed this sauce  as much as we did.  (I still have two jars in the fridge...waiting for me to devour them!)

Day 23 CHRISTmas: Going Postal

Today we delivered two loaves of Cranberry Orange Bread to our local Post office.  Kamy walked in and waited her turn to go to the counter. Once there, she explained that we were doing daily service for the month of December, and that they were our service for the day.  "Enjoy the bread", Kamy said with a wave goodbye.  I think the worker was a bit surprised that we didn't want to mail a package or get a book of stamps.  Just a thank you for your hard work.  I hope it made their day brighter.

We also made sure to give our local mail delivery person a goodie as well.  She happened to bring up a package, to our door, and so I gave her a bag of chocolate (most women like chocolate, right?) and I thanked her for her work and wished her a Merry Christmas. She was surprised, but left with a big smile on her face.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 22 CHRISTmas: Laundry

I planned this one with a friend.  I told her to have lots of laundry ready for us to fold.  The girls and I got there and saw only one basket of clothes.  So we folded that, and then looked around for more service to be done because the laundry was done too quickly.  We also vacuumed and swept before we left.  When we got home, we had about six baskets of our own laundry to fold...which wasn't nearly as much fun as doing another person's laundry.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 Christmas Card

Top Three Happenings of 2011 for Nunnelly Family
Heath:  Bike commuting to work.  Celebrated one year anniversary as a Federal Employee.  Lost 20 pounds...and still going.
Shaina:  Lost almost 30 pounds…and still going.   No hospital stays for anyone.  Summer travels visiting friends and family.

Kamy (11):  Getting her ears pierced.  Moving up to Middle School.  Playing with friends and cousins this summer.
Kennedy(6): Losing two teeth. Starting Kindergarten and learning to read. Going by her real name instead of Georgie.

Keaton (10):  Becoming a Webelo in scouts.  Attending two cubscout day camps this year.  Wrestling with Daddy.
Kolby (8):  Getting rollerblades for his birthday.  Being baptized.  Going to cubscouts.
Kimble(2):  No surgeries this year!  Learning to walk, run, and do flips.  Saying ‘hi’ to everyone he sees.

We didn't mail out our Christmas cards this year.  Instead, we are sharing them through email, facebook, and the blog.  Hope you have a lovely CHRISTmas and a happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hot Cocoa Cookies

This year a friend gave us a year-long subscription to the Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine.  She knows how much we like to cook!  We've enjoyed making recipes from the cookbook all year long, but there was one cookie that required immediate action.  The Hot Cocoa Cookie.  I brought it to a cookie exchange a few weeks ago, and it was G.O.O.D.

Hot Cocoa Cookies

1 stick (4 oz) of butter
20 oz chopped semi-sweet baking chocolate bar (divided)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
25-30 marshmallows

In a pot, over medium heat, melt 1 stick of butter and 12 oz of chocolate, chopped.  Continuously stir until mixture is smooth.  Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

In your mixer (or use beaters if you don't have a mixer), beat together the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla for about 2 minutes, or until smooth.  Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture until it's well incorporated.  Add the flour mixture in two batches, mixing on low until well combined.  Place bowl of dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or until you are ready to use it (within 48 hours).  (I live in a high altitude, and so I added an additional 1/2 cup to 3/4 of a cup of flour.  The mixture should resemble a thick brownie batter.  Once dough is chilled, it is a lot more firm, so don't get distressed if it seems too thin.)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Scoop out about a tablespoon of dough and roll it between your palms until it is the shape of a ball. Arrange about 12-16 balls of dough on the cookie sheet and then flatten a bit with your fingers.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Tops should be just starting to crack.

While your cookies are cooking, slice your marshmallows in half and chop your chocolate into 1 inch chunks.

Take one marshmallow half and one chunk of chocolate, and press it into the cookie, with the chocolate chunk going inside the cookie, and the marshmallow resting on top.

At this point, I flattened the marshmallow against the cookie, then sprinkled some slivers of chocolate on top of each marshmallow.

Put the cookies back in the oven for an additional 2-3 minutes.  This will cause the chocolate inside the cookie to get nicely melted.

Remove cookies from oven, and let them rest on the pan for about five minutes.  Then, carefully remove cookies from pan using a spatula, and place on a cooling rack.  Cookies are best eaten when warm.  The marshmallow is ooey gooey and the chocolate is rich and soft.  It really does taste like hot cocoa in your mouth.
It could get a bit precarious to eat, with all that melt-in-your-mouth-and-all-across-your-fingers chocolate coming at you every which way, but that is what is so good about it.
Once the cookies are cooled, the chocolate center becomes a bit more solid, and a bit more user-friendly to eat.  Hope you enjoy.  Give your kids the leftover marshmallows to eat.  They'll love ya forever.

Day 21 CHRISTmas: Playgroup

It seems like we've been doing a lot of cleaning-type service lately, so we broke the mold by having a playdate for the kids.  We invited anyone who wanted to, to drop off their kids for 2-3 hours while the parents got some last minute errands/Christmas shopping/grocery shopping/napping done.  We had seven kids dropped off, and all of them had a blast playing together.
After a few hours of playtime (in which the house was so quiet with them playing together, that I actually crocheted a hat in the blissful silence) we all made lunch together.  I put Keaton in charge of peeling and slicing the apples (he loves to use the apple-peeler-corer-slicer) and Kolby helped me with the grilled cheese sandwiches.  The other kids helped distribute water and goldfish (the cracker variety, not the fish) and all the kids ate their lunch together.

(12 kids ate 16 grilled cheese sandwiches, 10 apples, and half a bag of goldfish crackers.)

I really enjoyed the service today.  It helped my kids have something fun to do, and it benefited the parents who needed to get their things done as well.  Win Win.

Day 20: CHRISTmas: Sanitizing Work

Today we went to The Husband's work to clean and sanitize his desk, mouse, computer, phone, and surrounding area.  Then we cleaned each of his coworker's areas.  We brought Lysol wipes and used them like they were going out of style.  The kids had a great time visiting dad's work, and all of the coworkers love seeing the gaggle of kids we have.

Mr. Kimble was too tired to clean, and instead, took a nap on the window ledge.

When we left, we cleaned all the door handles we could find, as well as all the buttons on the elevators.  We walked down the stairs, and with each kid armed with a new Lysol wipe, we cleaned the handrails.  It's hard to tell, but you can see the dirty towels that resulted in a clean railing.

It was fun for the kids. Most especially, because they got a reeses treat off of dad's workdesk, when they were done cleaning.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 19 CHRISTmas: Cleaning!

Today brought us over to a friend's house who is about to have a baby any day now.  (Her and my sister are due the same time, but since I couldn't drive 13 hours to my sister's house to clean her house as well, we offered our services locally.)

The kids were happy to help clean someone else's house, and got their chores done at home quickly so we could get over to our friend's house.  Here they are, with their cleaning scarfs on, ready to head out the door.  (We used our own cleaning props, to make the photo more fun!  Why?  Because service is FUN!)

Once we got there, the kids dove right into to picking up the floors, putting away laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, and wiping things down.  I was so impressed by how focused all the kids were at helping.  It was really great to see.  (I cleaned the kitchen...because cleaning the kitchen is my favorite chore.)

Keaton even loved mopping so much, that after dinner, he asked to mop our own kitchen.  That's my boy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 18 CHRISTmas: Hosting Dinner

Tonight we had another family over for dinner.  We made Lasagna Soup, with salad and garlic bread.  We were happy for the company, and the kids enjoyed playing with each other.  Sometimes after our late church, it is a struggle to get dinner made quickly, especially because everyone is so hungry from hours and hours of church.  We had things planned, so we got dinner ready pretty fast.  Our friends told us later, that despite trying to get their own dinner going in the crock pot before church, they didn't get anything prepared.  So it was great that we invited them to dinner.  I'm always happy to feed people!

It was fitting to do service for this family, because EmilieAn is the one who first told me about the month-long CHRISTmas service that they do as a family. I was happy to hop on board, and it's been so rewarding for our family.  We told them that they were our CHRISTmas service for the day, and they all thought it was cool to be the recipients of the type of service that they've been focusing on as well.

Also, I can't resist posting this picture of Mr. Kimble in his church attire.  So cute!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 17 CHRISTmas: Giving Tree

A few weeks ago, we grabbed some tags off a Giving Tree at our church, which contained the ages of two people for which we would provide a Christmas present for.   We turned in these presents today, so they could be  added to the other presents and sorted for each needy family.  We loved being able to contribute to a "secret santa" for this specific family.  Afterall, the year Kimble was born, and having just gotten home from a difficult hospital stay, someone had done the same thing for us.  It was so meaningful to us, to know that other people were thinking about us and helping to make our holiday a special one.

One other thing we did for service today, was to contribute two groups of items that were being auctioned off at our church Christmas Dinner Party.  It was in effort to raise money for the cubscouts, and all of their activities for the next year (which will include the day camps that my boys love going to). I put together two sets of baby baskets, containing flannel blankets, krinkle toys, chenille burp cloths, and corduroy bibs.  They both sold for a good amount, and so we helped provide for future scouting activities.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

More Meatballs

Here is another recipe I found on Pinterest, and then tweaked to my liking.  Meatballs and mozzarella cheese wrapped in biscuits, and dipped in marinara sauce.  Sounded great, but I wanted to go further.  I made my own meatballs, wrapped them in garlic bread, and topped it with a breadcrumb and Parmesan cheese topping...and then dipped it in marinara.  Sounded good to me!

Meatball Stuffed Garlic Bread

20 Rhodes Rolls, thawed (or you could make your own bread dough)
20 meatballs (store-bought or handmade, but make sure to pre-cook them if they are handmade)
8 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into diced cubes
1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1/4 cup melted butter
Garlic salt


Thaw your rolls on a greased baking sheet until they are pliable (or make your own dough and form into balls).  In a separate bowl, combine your Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and breadcrumbs together.  Pre-cook your meatballs, if applicable.

Using your fingers, flatten out a roll.  Place a meatball in the center of the dough, with a cube of mozzarella on either side of the meatball.  Form dough around the meatball, enclosing it.

(When I first made this, I cut the meatballs in half, and only placed half inside each dough ball.  However, once it was cooked, I had much more bread and not enough meat, so I have since placed a whole meatball in the dough ball, and it works out great.  You can use store bought meatballs if you want, and simply defrost them if they are the pre-cooked kind, or you can use a homemade meatball, just make sure you cook them first before you begin this assembly.  I have two meatball recipes that are fantastic.  Swedish Meatballs or Italian Meatballs.)

After your dough roll is enclosed around the meatball and cheese, dip the top into your melted butter first, and then your breadcrumb mixture.  The butter helps adhere the breadcrumb mixture.

Place seam-side down on a greased baking sheet.   Continue until all the rolls are finished.  Then, sprinkle the tops with garlic salt.

Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes.  The tops should be a nice golden brown, and the undersides will be nicely browned as well.

Break open your roll and see the yumminess inside!  Dip in marinara sauce and enjoy!  This makes a great dinner, or a perfect party treat!

This recipe may remind you of my Chicken Pillows.  If you haven't tried those yet, I completely recommend it!