Memories... Like Mom Made!

Memories... Like Mom Made!
Out of dark moments, flowers grow.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Benefit Auction for a Family in Need

On Saturday, June 9, 2012, my father Richard Teubner, mother Edie Teubner, and grandparents 96 year old Glen "Ahda" Harding, and 86 year old Mary "Nana" Harding, were driving to Kansas City when a pick up truck heading the opposite direction pulled in front of them. My Dad tried to stop their van but couldn't and they collided head on on into the truck. They all suffered severe injuries. Richard's left arm was broken, and his right ankle was shattered and after an initial 4 hour surgery to fix it, he was transferred to a better equipped hospital and will require further surgeries. Mary's wrist was broken and will require surgery. She also suffered fractures to her spine and damage to her knee, along with severe cuts to her face. Edie was thrown into the windshield and suffered some severe facial cuts and will require plastic surgery. She lost a lot of blood and had to receive two units of blood. Glen received the greatest injuries: two broken legs and a broken cheek bone. He is currently awaiting surgery to repair his left leg. Though most 96 year old would be devastated by these injuries, Glen is keeping his spirits high by telling jokes and old basketball stories - just like he always does!

Thankfully it seems that everyone will be okay and no injuries are life threatening, but they all have a long road ahead of them. The real battle will begin when they are released from the hospital, as these four individuals rely on each other as their support and care network. I am going to be moving home to help them on the road to recovery, but with two small children of my own, and now four injured adults to care for, I will need a lot of help, support, and understanding.

To help them with their recovery when they return home, they will need things like cleaning and laundry service, groceries, and gas to transport them to and from therapy and doctor appointments, along with many unforeseen expenses that won't be covered by insurance.

A wonderful woman at Stitches N Hooks has arrange a benefit auction to raise money for these things. If you would like to help, feel free to browse the auction and find something you would like. All proceeds go to help with the things mentioned above.

Go HERE to see the auction items.
Go HERE to check out Stitches N Hooks on Facebook.

Thank you.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Refrigerator Pickles

My husband loves pickles.

I mean he LOVES pickles.

When I was pregnant with Leila, I went to the store once and ended up buying 3 jars of pickles... I couldn't decide which kind I was craving so I bought 3 different kinds...

I thought I was bad.

My husband goes through about 3 jars of pickles A WEEK!

So naturally when we were at the Farmer's Market a few weeks ago, he bought a bunch of nice big cucumbers and asked me to make him homemade pickles. Of course I said yes.

And then I went to work to find a recipe that I could make without having to go through the process of canning.

I finally found a recipe I liked on McCormick's website. I tweaked it a bit to fit our tastes and what we had on hand, but ultimately it turned out beautifully and I couldn't be happier with the end result: a crunchy, crisp, delicious pickle with just the right amount of sour and sweet!

I made four variations that I will tell you how to make: dill spears, zesty dill spears, bread and butter chips, and garlic dill "chunks".

First you need to select your cucumbers. I ended up with about 5 or 6 nice sized pickling cucumbers. The color was a medium green - not the super dark green of the standard store bought cucumbers, but not the creamy pale color of some market cucumbers. I went for something in between. I also made sure to select cucumbers free of any blemishes or bruises. You want nice, fresh, crisp cucumbers. The fresher the cucumber, the crisper the pickle.

And no one likes a mushy pickle.

To prepare the cucumbers for pickling, slice the ends off of each cuke. You dont need to take much off, just enough to remove the stem.

Then slice the cucumber however you prefer. I ended up with 4 jars - 1 quart size jar of spears, 1 pint size jar of spears, 1 pint size jar of bread and butter chips, and a half pint size jar of the leftover chunks from what I cut off of the spears to make them fit in the pint size jar.

For the spears I simply cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 3 pieces. You would naturally think it would be two or four, but after much deliberation I determined 3 to be the perfect size for the spears.

For the bread and butter chips I used my Pampered Chef Mandoline Slicer. I used the blade that makes krinkle cuts... I LOVE that blade... It is perfect for making Microwave Potato Chips, cutting veggies in an exciting shape for kids, or for preparing your pickles like I did. It makes them the absolute perfect thickness.

After you have prepared your cucumbers, toss them in a bowl and sprinkle with turmeric. I used about a teaspoon per bowl. Then cover the cucumbers with the hottest tap water you can get. You can boil the water and do it that way, but I like immediate gratification, so I went with super hot tap water.

Let them sit until the water has completely cooled off, and then let it sit longer... about 2 hours. Drain them completely then rinse with cold water and drain again. Repeat this rinsing and draining a couple of times.

In the bottom of 3-4 sterilized pint size mason jars, sprinkle mustard seed, dill weed, and other herbs to your preference. I ended up with the following:

Dill Spears: 1 tbsp dried dill weed, 1 tbsp mustard seed (whole)
Zesty Dill spears: 1 tbsp dried dill weed, 1-2 tsp mustard seed (whole), 1-2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Garlic Dill chunks: 1 tbsp dried dill weed, 1-2 tsp mustard seed (whole), 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1 teaspoon McCormick's pickling spice
Bread and Butter Chips: 1 tsp McCormick's pickling spice, 1 tbsp mustard seed (whole)

Then pack your prepared cucumbers into the jars. I jammed mine in there nice and tight. It was like a puzzle trying to get all the spears to fit in there! For the pint size jar of spears, I used one as a guide for how tall they could be and cut the rest accordingly. Then I tossed the little chunks into a half pint jar and made those into my Garlic Dill chunks.

The bread and butter chips have a pickling solution that contains more sugar. This is what gives it the sweet and sour bite. The dill pickles have less sugar so the vinegar shines through and gives it a sharper bite. I started out with the same solution for all four jars, the dill solution, then I poured the mixture into the three dill jars and returned the remainder to the stove with some more sugar. You can do it that way, or you can use two different pots.

FOR DILL: Bring 3 1/2 cups white vinegar to a boil. Stir in 2 tablespoons white sugar and 2 tablespoons salt. I used iodized sea salt (I think I am in love!).

Once the sugar and salt has completely dissolved, pour into the jars, leaving about 1/4 inch head space. This is what the "official instructions said, but to be honest, I just poured mine up to the bottom of where the threads start. It worked out perfectly between all four jars. You can always go back and distribute leftovers at the end.

FOR BREAD AND BUTTER: Place 2 cups each of white vinegar and white sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes, stirring to ensure that all the sugar is completely dissolved.

Remove from heat and pour into the prepared jars.

Let the pickles stand in their jars, uncovered, until cooled to room temperature. Then screw on the lids and refrigerate. You will have to check them every couple of days and shake them to distribute all the yummy seasonings. I tried one of my pickles right away and it was already "pickle-y" and delicious!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Rainbow of Hope: Lorelei Marie Decker

17 months ago I went through something no parent should ever have to go through: my baby girl took her last breaths in my arms.

The months that followed were bleak. Some days I didn't even want to get out of bed, but with the support of a loving husband and incredible son, I was able to put the pieces back together.

Then on July 15, the day before what would have been Leila's six month birthday, I got a positive pregnancy test. I took several more... staring at the line get darker and darker... My heart swelled and broke at the same time.

Leila was going to be a big sister, but she wouldn't get to partake in all the wonderful things a big sister should do. There were a million negative things I could focus on...

But instead I chose to focus on the positive in front of me. The very literal positive, staring up at me, telling me that Donovan and I were getting our Rainbow after the storm.

My pregnancy was not easy: as those of you who followed my story know, I had many ups and downs, including a 5 week stay in the hospital, later a false alarm that put me back in the hospital for 3 days, horrible all day sickness, not to mention surgery at 13 weeks, a cross country trip at 15 weeks, a deployed husband, and an active toddler to look after.

The odds were stacked against me for sure, but my entire pregnancy I felt a sort of presence. A feeling deep inside that told me everything would be okay.

And wouldn't you know? It was.

Absolutely perfect.

On March 5, 2012, at 9:51am, I saw my beautiful Lorelei for the first time. I can't even describe to you how perfect she was/is. The held her up to me, pulled down the curtain so I could take a peek, and there she was. Chubby cheeks, thick black hair, and eyes wide open. She didn't cry. She just took everything in.

She has been like that since. She very rarely cries. She is too busy observing her environment. She loves when I make faces at her, when he brother sings her some remixed nursery songs (did you know that "Rock-a-bye Baby" has a hot dog in it?), and even when the cats come over to check her out.

She is the happiest baby I have ever met. And I love her with all of my heart.

I can't help but realize that Lorelei is here because her sister is not. Had Leila lived, we would not have even considered getting pregnant so soon. We would have been focused on the vast health issues we would have to overcome together. Or had she waited until her due date (mid May) to be born, it would have been for too early to even attempt to get pregnant. Lorelei is here for a reason. Of that, I am sure.

I won't deny that I think it is unfair. Unfair that one baby has to leave this Earth in order for another to be created... at least in our case. But I have come to a point where I can't question the plan anymore. I have to live it. I have to let something bigger than me guide me.

Because if I stop long enough to question it, I probably won't like the answer. Or even understand it.

But I know there has to be a plan. I look at Lorelei and I know. We are here for a reason.

And I can't wait to find out what that reason is.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How to Entertain Your Preschooler: Noodles and String

Yes, you read it right! The second post in the "How to Entertain Your Preschooler" series involves TWO key things...

Noodles and String.

Remarkably simple, yet again... But still wildly fabulous.

This idea was born slightly out of desperation, and slightly out of a weird grade school flashback...

Landon had already played with the Bean Bucket for a couple of hours, played with trains, eaten lunch, played with blocks, had a snack... Basically he had done it all and still wanted more! So I ran to the pantry, rummaged around, saw some lonely pasta hanging out and a light bulb went off! Remember all of the zany art projects we were all subjected to as grade schoolers? Like gluing pasta on paper plates, making noodle necklaces, and even rolling penne in glue and glitter? I do!

I took another tupperware style tub just like in the Bean Bucket tutorial (these things are GREAT for easy, portable activities that you can clean up and store in a snap) and dumped in a half empty box of penne I had on the shelf. Then I cut two long pieces of cotton cord and knotted one end of each string.

You can leave it at that, or you can dip the end of the string into candle wax to make it easier to push through the noodles. I had some Scentsy warming on the counter so I just dipped the tip in about an inch, set it in the freezer to harden completely, and then put it in the tub with the noodles.

Then I placed the whole thing in front of Landon, showed him ONCE how to do it, and he was off. Creating noodle necklaces, noodle trains, noodles worms....

It is amazing how the mind of a 3 year old can work, right? Mind you these were all pretty much identical since I haven't yet dyed the noodles (COMING SOON!!!), and because I only had penne on hand. Since dried pasta is only a buck or two a box, I plan on picking up some more the next time I head to the store. Different shapes and sizes will be more interesting and also provide an opportunity to sort, compare relationships of size, and talks about differences.

Isn't learning fun?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How to Create a Weathered Finish With a Household Material

Have you ever been working on a project and thought "Man! This would be perfect if only I could get just the right amount of distressing on this without having to buy expensive distressing paint, or without accidentally sanding through my second layer of paint!"?

Don't lie. You KNOW you have said those exact words in your head, or out loud...

Ok, maybe I am paraphrasing a bit.

But you know you want to know the trick already... right?!

The trick is so simple, so cheap, and so readily available that when I tell you what it is, you will either want to kiss me, or want to immediately run to your craft room (or garage, kitchen, living room... where the crafting magic happens... ok?) and use this little trick.

Should I draw this out any longer or should I go ahead and tell you what the household item is?


It is....

Drumroll please....

A candle!!!

Wax in particular. Any wax candle will do the trick. I grabbed an old votive candle that hadn't seen the light of day, let alone a match, in years and went to town on a project I have been working on: a mason jar key holder.

First start with a clean piece of wood.

I used a 12" x 4' board that I picked up from Home Depot for under $5. Since they will do up to 2 cuts for free, I had it cut into three separate pieces: this 12"x12", a second 12"x12", and a 12"x24" board that I will be using to make an adorable bench for Lorelei's room later. Make sure it is clean and sand the edges if you have to.

Next paint an even coat of the color you want to show through on your finished project. I used a bottle of acrylic paint I had on hand. Any old paint will work for this trick. After you cover the surface with your first paint color, let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.

After the first coat dries, take your candle (I said I used a forgotten votive candle, but forgot to mention that my husband had carved it into the shape of a 1 for our son's first birthday when we couldn't find the 1 candle for his cake, but any candle or wax will work) and rub it on the edges and any place you want the original color to show through. I paid extra attention to the edges and corners, and then rubbed it sporadically through the middle of the board.

Next you will paint the entire surface with your top color. Obviously this is the color of your finished project. When you cover the entire project with paint, determine if it needs a second or third coat or not. When you achieve the color you want it to be, let it dry completely and then grab some sand paper.

Start sanding the edges and any place where you rubbed your wax and the wax will easily strip off, revealing your first paint color underneath. Don't press so hard that you pull off the wax and the bottom layer of paint. I like to rough up the entire project (GENTLY though!) so that I don't miss any pieces of wax. This ensures that the entire project looks nice and worn.

This trick works for any project you can imagine: dressers, shelves, tables, picture frames, etc.


How to Entertain your Preschooler: Bean Bucket!!!

This is my first activity post in my "How to Entertain your Preschooler" series.

A few weeks ago I was really in need of something I could easily throw together to entertain Landon. I needed it to be portable so I could bring it out when I needed Landon to be occupied for a few minutes (or, you know, an hour or two), easy to clean up so I didn't defeat the purpose of the activity in the first place, and something that actually challenged him intellectually (read: NOT the television).

Because of the WIC program (I am not ashamed to admit that we receive WIC: it is an incredible program and I am grateful for all that it provides!) we have a surplus of dried beans in the house. I grabbed a large tupperware container with a secure lid, and dumped three 1 pound bags into the bucket: one bag of lentils, one bag of red beans, and one bag of black eyed peas.

Then I assembled three small Dixie cups (for sorting), a coffee scoop I never use since I grind all of my coffee fresh in my  Magic Bullet  right before I brew my coffee, and a small measuring cup.

Then I placed the new activity in front of my ecstatic preschooler and he was completely content for the next THREE hours!!!

Here he was playing with the coffee scoop and various "go-gos" he decided to add to the bean bucket.

The best part is, clean up is an absolute breeze! Just swipe any of the spilled beans off the table or counter back into the tub, and vacuum any fallen beans from the floor or carpet. Snap the lid back on and store in a cabinet or shelf until your child is ready to play again!

Since beans are super cheap (or free), it doesn't matter if you have to vacuum a bunch of them up. A one pound bag of beans is under $1 at most grocery stores!

When I first presented the bucket to Landon, I challenged him to sort each kind of bean into a separate Dixie cup. When he had sorted several in to each cup, we dumped them out and counted how many he had collected of each kind.

We also talked about color, relationship of size, and texture.

Several times a week he asks to play with the beans and I am guaranteed at least an hour with a completely entertained and occupied 3 year old. And he even loves to help clean up with the vacuum hose!

**Obviously this activity is NOT suitable for children who still swallow small objects or put objects in their mouth without super close supervision. For younger children, do NOT leave them alone with this activity. My 3 year old is out of the "mouth exploration" stage so he does fine by himself with this activity. Make sure you explain to your child beforehand that these beans are NOT for eating and are just for playing! And, because I don't want to be responsible for any trips to the ER, please make sure and tell your child that we do not put beans up our noses!!!! Thank you! Enjoy!

How to Entertain Your Preschooler

Having a new baby in the house is amazing. Watching her grow and change and become interested in the world around her is incredible. I have to admit though, I had forgotten how extremely exhausting it is to be a 24/7 milk factory/bottle/pacifier, not to mention changing diapers every couple of hours while also keeping up on house work, creating delicious meals, and doing load after load of laundry.

And did I mention we cloth diaper? Yeah. We do. And I LOVE it... But the extra loads of laundry...

Well let's just come out with it:


Oh and did I mention that I have a 3 year old? A wonderful, curious, active, intelligent 3 year old who is constantly in need of things himself.

One of the most difficult things about adjusting to having a new baby is making sure not to lose sight of the other child(ren) in the house. Especially at this age. He is becoming more and more independent, which is awesome, but it can also be trouble. Because the independent 3 year old actually creates more work for mommy if not properly guided... IE: an independent 3 year old left to his own devices may pull every single snack item out of the cabinet and proceed to sit down and work his way through every cracker and fruit snack in the bunch. Or help himself to some juice, which he proceeds to pour in his own cup... and on the counter, floor, sink, etc..

Yes 3 is an incredible age, if you are prepared for it!

So I am going to start a small series of posts with tips on how I entertain my precocious 3 year old in a way that still promotes fun, learning, and a few minutes of peace (read: nursing, changing diapers, doing laundry, sneaking cookies in the utility room... whatever you may need a few extra minutes to do) for mommy.

If you have any particularly useful activities that you utilize in your home, please share them here and I will be sure to try them out and include them in the future.

1. Bean Bucket

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother's Day Ideas... Gifts, Recipes, and 10 ways to make her day special...

So Mother's Day is right around the corner... Are you ready?

Last year a group of friend's and I had a fancy schmancy tea and brunch to celebrate our important day. My husband was deployed (AGAIN), and so were many of their husbands. It was a great way to band together to make the day special, and a wonderful excuse to wear pearls, long gloves, fancy hats, and flowery dresses.

Needless to say, it was a great time.

And we are doing the same thing again this year!

Since we are doing it potluck style, I am making a few things for the occasion. I don't expect anything fancy for my actual Mother's Day, so instead I am making all the delicious things I would want for myself... It's a win-win, right?

Here is my menu:

Brazilian Lemonade
Cranberry Scones
Cheddar Leek and Bacon Muffins
Leek and Goat Cheese Mini Quiches
Spinach Mozzarella and Ham Mini Quiches
Banana Cake with Vanilla Frosting
Mini White Chocolate Cheesecakes

You COULD say I am going overboard... but like I said: things I would like to have... the list just happens to be long!!

I will of course be adding my own touch to the recipes, but just so I don't leave you hanging, here are some recipes for the above items.

Brazilian Lemonade

(Mix the sugar, lime, and water mixture in a large jug ahead of time to save time, then add to a pitcher and stir in sweetened condensed milk when ready to serve)

Cheddar and Leek Muffins

(I am adding crisp, crumbled bacon to mine)

Leek and Goat Cheese Mini Quiches

(So this is a frittata recipe... I am going to make some simple pie crust, use a drinking glass to cut circles, and press the crust into muffin tins and fill with the mixture and bake until set. I will be leaving out the pumpkin seeds. I will also be making a version of these with spinach, mozzarella, and ham.)

Banana Cake with Vanilla Frosting

Mini White Chocolate Cheesecakes
(I will be making a graham cracker and butter mixture and pressing it into mini muffin cups, then pouring the mixture into the cups to bake. Then I will be topping with a small strawberry and a mint leaf)

So there you have a bunch of brunch ideas!!! I hope you make and enjoy some of them, either as the author intended or with the changes I will be making.

So this is one of the few mother's days that my husband will actually be home for. Let me rephrase that:

This is one of the few mother's days that my husband will not be deployed for... But he has duty and has to stand watch... So I won't actually get to see him... So I don't really expect much, but if he were to do something, here are some ideas that I wouldn't mind!

10 FREE (or very close to being free) Ways to Spoil the Mother of your Children
1. A clean house
2. A nap while he watches the kids
3. Breakfast in bed
4. A handmade card
5. Some hand picked flowers from the front yard
6. A bubble bath
7. Coupons promising things like a massage, chores around the house done without asking, or an hour of whatever I want to watch on TV, etc.
8. A bottle of wine to drink while he cares for the kids (Fresh and Easy has "Big Kahuna" for $1.99)
9. To sleep in
10. A day of being told how amazing I am and reminded of all the incredible things I do.

And if you have some money to spare and want to give her an amazing present (for Mother's Day, Christmas, her birthday, or just because you love her), check out these ideas, made by ME! You can purchase these, or items like these, through my facebook business page: Decked Out: Custom Creations by Virginia Decker.

Charm Necklace with a bird's nest to represent the children in a Mother's life.

Multi-color nest necklace

Lace and Pearl Necklace

I hope you have enjoyed my Mother's Day Idea post. And I hope that you walk away (click away?) from this post with several ideas to make the Mom in your life feel like the queen she is on her special day.

Before I leave you, I want to show you the best gifts I have ever received:

My beautiful children. <3

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Because no words seemed good enough to announce the long awaited and anticipated arrival of our precious Cupcake, Lorelei Marie Decker... I will let the pictures and incredibly imaginative and creative announcement, designed by my sister, Sarah Teubner, do the job. Above photo by Melissa Cox of Lifeshots Photography, announcement by Sarah Teubner.

1 day old... So perfect and snuggly.

1 week old... So smiley and sweet...

...and alert and curious.

1 month old... So loving and beautiful.

I have enjoyed every minute so far. And I can't wait to enjoy and explore every minute to come. Lorelei Marie, words can not express how much we love you, how deeply we longed for you, how absolutely in awe we are at you beauty and perfection. You came in to our lives as a rainbow: the promise of hope after the storm. Your perfection does not negate or erase the storm that came before you, but rather reminds us that the storm did happen, for some reason bigger than all of us, and that we survived, also for a reason bigger than us. You are that reason. You are our hope and sunshine. You are our reminder that good things can come out of tragedies, though it may not be easy to see at first.

After all, it is out of dark moments that flowers grow.

I love you Lorelei. Welcome to your world.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Remembering Leila

January 16th marked the day that Leila would have been one year old.

Would have been.

I think about the way things "would" have been and I feel the breath catch in my lungs.

It doesn't help to think about the way things would, should, or could have been. Instead: I spent January 16, 2012, giving thanks for the 12 days I had with my daughter, and for all the people that she brought in to our lives.

I remembered the wonderful things about her that I will always hold dear: her feistiness, her long skinny fingers and toes, the way she flailed and moved like she was dancing, the way I felt when I looked at her.

I tried not to be sad... But of course I failed.

But I tried not to be OVERLY sad. I tried to rejoice that she is happy now. No longer in pain.

A friend started a Facebook page called "Remembering Leila". Anyone who wanted to could join the page and post pictures of what they did that day to remember Leilani Marie Decker and the short life she lived.

Some people sent balloons up to her.

Others lit candles.



But all of them... Every single one... Took a few special moments to honor my daughter.

And words can not express how happy and blessed that makes me feel.

Leila may be gone from this world, but she will never truly be gone. As long as people continue to remember her and honor her, she will always live on in them.

And in us.

We love you, Leila. Always and forever...

To the moon and back again.

Love - Mommy, Daddy, Landon, Javi, Daisy, and last but certainly not least, your tiny baby sister, Lorelei (who I know you have been keeping close watch over as her birthday draws nearer and nearer).