Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Whirley Pop.

If you go into my house on any given day, you are likely to see my whirley pop sitting on the stovetop. "What's a whirley pop?", you might ask. It's the best thing I've found to pop popcorn none. It is a deep pan that has this crank attached to the top. Put the popcorn kernels in the pot and start turning the crank, which is attached to a "stirrer" (for lack of a better word) that keeps the kernels moving while they  are over the heat. The top also has two vents in it so that the steam can escape. In order to get tender popcorn, two things must occur, the kernels have to be able to move around and the steam has to be able to escape. I pop 1/3 cup of kernels in 1 tsp. of canola oil. That's practically fat-free, when you consider it makes a large bowl of popcorn. It takes hardly any time to make it either. It may take 3 minutes from start to finish to pop a big bowl. I love the smell too. Don't think you will be able to enjoy this snack by yourself if there is anyone else home. It's impossible. The smell of fresh popped popcorn penetrates the house and people can't help but follow their noses right into the kitchen. The whirley pop comes with a neat recipe book that will give you instructions for making several different flavors of popcorn too. I love making kettle corn, and it couldn't be easier. I googled the whirley pop and found it available for purchase on lots of different sites. It makes an excellent gift too. I gave one to my Dad about five years ago, and he still uses it (practically every week). The kids really get into to it as well because they can turn the crank as the kernels are popping, and I haven't met a kid that didn't like that. Now that Fall is here, popcorn balls make wonderful after school treats and can be used for Trick or Treat favors as well. I would much rather get a popcorn ball in my bag than jolly ranchers or suckers or starburst candies. *Notice I didn't include chocolate in that list.* At any rate, I think you'll find that the whirley pop would make an excellent addition to your kitchen. So "pop" on over to the computer and order one online today. I don't think you will regret it.-------- Credit: the above picture came off a website that absolutely I'm making one of her recipes tonight for supper tonight. Bar-B Cups....oh my. I'm sure you'll be reading about them very soon.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Treat For The Fair.

It's that time of year again. The State Fair will be starting very soon and we are all getting excited. That taffy is something that dreams are made of. Thank goodness my sweet Aunt Nae always sends me a box. My dentist thanks her too. I was thinking of all the wonderful foods that are available at the fair and decided to post a recipe for blueberry beignets. Oh good. The lady that I got the recipe & picture from ( says that her little boy told her these were like "little pillows you could eat". I can't understand why that makes me want to eat these even more, but it does. This recipe is a little on the long side and sounds slightly complicated, but it really isn't. Don't be afraid to try it (unless you're a diabetic, then should you be very afraid). Here's the recipe: 1/4 cup granulated sugar (divided), 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 egg (beaten), 2 Tbsp shortening, 1/2 tsp table salt, 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup fresh blueberries, vegetable oil for frying, and powdered sugar for dusting.  In a small bowl, dissolve 2 tsp sugar in 3/4 cup warm water. Sprinkle on yeast and let stand for 10 mins. or until yeast is bubbly. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the remaining sugar, evaporated milk, lemon zest, vanilla, egg, shortening, and salt. Add yeast and beat until smooth. Beat in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft, sticky dough forms. Stir in blueberries until just combined. Spray a clean bowl with non-stick spray and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. Next, on a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to form a rectangle about 20 x 16 inches and 1/4 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 2 1/2 inch squares. Then, heat the oil in a deep pot until a candy thermometer registers 360 degrees F or use a deep fat fryer. Fry the beignets, a few at a time to avoid overcrowding, for about 2 minutes, turning frequently, until golden brown. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to a cooling rack lined with paper towels and set over a baking sheet to cool. Finally, dust generously with powdered sugar. Mmmm......add a cup of mocha and well, words just leave me at this point. Make these soon. You'll be so very glad you did.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An Aussie Apple.

Here lately, I've been on the hunt for healthier school snacks and lunches that I can send with the kids. I like the same old things and tend to get in a rut. A peanut butter & jelly sandwich will work most any day, but who wants to eat that EVERY day? I'm sure my son wouldn't mind, but that's beside the point. I need to mix it up and I found a neat trick for apples in my search process. It's called an Aussie Apple. Quite simple really, but I've never thought about preparing one quite like this. In the past, I always felt that pre-slicing the apples was the way to go. Problem is they turn brown and appear unappetizing to children. I usually cut a lemon and squeeze juice over my slices to prevent this, but sometimes I don't have lemons lying around. This might be a good time to point out that I live approx. 10 miles away from the nearest grocery store too. I guess people have the same problem in parts of Australia too because this is where the idea for this apple originated (or so I'm told). Take your apple and slice off the four "cheeks" into four parts. You'll be left with the core intact and kind of square shaped. Next, put the apple back together, like a puzzle, and take a clean rubber band and secure around the apple. Your child can remove the rubber band at snack time and the apple will already be sliced. Keeping it together like that also prevents it from turning brown. Isn't that a neat idea? And the core can be easily discarded into the trash. No seeds! I can't believe I haven't heard of this before now. I got this idea off of It's a neat site that is dedicated to kids lunch menus. If you know of more sites like that, then leave me a comment and give me the address. Have a great night!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Winter Hat.

Oh dear. Me oh my. This baby has got me wrapped around her chubby little fingers and I don't even know her.  That's the effect babies have on me. That's the reason my husband hightailed it to the urologist shortly after I gave birth to EC, our fourth. He knew that I would see a picture like this and convince myself that I needed one.  He knows me well. Dang it. Anyway,  I found this shop on called Knotty Tots. They sell the cutest handmade beanies and get leg warmers. Be still my heart. I can't wait to put baby leg warmers on my niece (or maybe nephew) that's due in 2011. Fun! I hope P and J won't mind. Back to the cute little hat, I just felt with cooler temps approaching that this might be just the perfect accessory for the sweet little one in your life. Just think of the adorable pictures that can be made sporting one of these. Don't forget the baby leg warmers. You've got at least a good thirteen years before they will come back and question why in the world you put that on them when they were a baby. In the meantime, enjoy playing dress up with them.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Scarf Tutorial.

It really is funny that my post is on scarves today. Hilarious actually. I am the least fashion forward person I know. This is not a news flash to the people who personally know me.*sigh* And yet, even I know that scarves will continue to be a trend this season. What I like about them is their versatility. They come in every color imaginable, any pattern you could dream of, and any size that you need. You don't have to be a certain height or weight for them to look appropriate either. Just so long as you choose one that is in correct proportion to you. I saw the best scarf tutorial the other day on another blog I follow, She posted a short video showcasing 5 different ways to wear scarves, and I learned so much from it. Unfortunately, I am lacking just as much in my technical abilities as I am in my fashion know how. I tried to find a link to the video, but couldn't come up with one. You can go to her site and type the word "scarf" in her search box and it will bring you to the tutorial. If you like to wear scarves, then you really need to check it out for yourself. The above picture came off of Amanda's site as well. My scarf collection is rather....pitiful. Hopefully, this will help me get on the right track. Happy learning!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Stovetop Potpourri.

I really enjoy going into other people's homes and taking in their sense of style. In fact, it's almost fascinating to me. I like to observe the decor, the personalization, and.....the smell. It's true. Sometimes it may be the wonderful smell of what's cooking in the oven that instantly makes you feel at home. Or sometimes it's that big candle burning on the coffee table that draws you in. My sister-in-law bought some great Febreeze wall plug-ins that greet you with a wonderful fragrance when you walk in her place. Whatever it is that defines the scent in your home, it should be pleasant and welcoming. Which brings me to today's post. Is it too early in the season to start simmering potpourri on the stovetop? I hope not, because I'm so ready to let the simmering begin. A few years ago, I gave this potpourri mix to my kids' support staff at school for Christmas.  I wrapped them up in cellophane bags and finished them with red ribbons and cinnamon sticks tied in the bow. A printed instruction card with my kid's Christmas greetings to the staff completed the look. Here's the recipe: 1 whole orange (or you can just use the orange peel if you like), 1/2 cup cranberries (frozen will work fine), 1 Tbsp. whole cloves, 3 sticks of cinnamon, and a bit of grated nutmeg (optional). Quarter the orange. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and fill with water. Place on the smallest burner on stovetop on low. Refill water as needed. This will keep for several days, just burn it everyday and keep the water in it. I got this particular version of stovetop potpourri and the picture from Now go on out and get the stuff to make this. Let's enjoy this time of year and the wonderful scents that accompany it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Role Model.

September 2010

Last night my daughter, KK, represented her class in the Jr. High Homecoming festivities.  She was absolutely gorgeous too. I mean it. I'm not letting the fact that she's my daughter cloud my judgement either. *hehe* I can appreciate the fact that she has outward beauty, but it's her inward beauty that fills me to the brim with thankfulness. She was given an information sheet to fill out for the announcer at homecoming. It wanted all the basic stats and then she could pick a question, from a list, that she would like to answer and have announced as well. She chose the question, "Who is your role model? And Why?". She immediately knew her answer. Which brings me to the other pretty lady in the above picture. Let me tell you about her.
K.A. and my KK are really good friends. They started going to the same school together two years ago, and immediately hit it off.  K.A. also happens to be the daughter of my best friend from high school, so it was meant to be that our daughters would be good friends as well. Last year, K.A. was involved in a four-wheeler accident. She wasn't particularly driving recklessly, she was just riding on unfamiliar territory in tall grass and didn't realize that she was heading straight for a 10 foot drop off. *gulp* It's a miracle that she's still hanging around with us after that kind of tumble, but God has a plan, and she is. She suffered some major injuries, like multiple fractures of her hips and various other bones. She also has nerve damage in one of her legs that has been extremely painful for her. In fact, let's not mince words, this whole ordeal has caused her much physical pain. There's been hours after hours of physical therapy and even electrical stimulation for her damaged nerves. There's been numerous surgeries, trips across the country to see specialists, and several months confined to a wheelchair. Pretty tough stuff. After all that, you would tend to think that a person might be a little bitter about their circumstances. Right? Well, that smile she's sporting in this picture is the same one that I've been watching her flash since her ordeal began. Does that mean she doesn't struggle with questions that we all would have in that same situation? No, I'm sure she has her moments, BUT what is amazing is her positive attitude, courage, and sheer determination in the face of it. That's what my KK has witnessed in this past year that made her automatically think of her as a role model. K.A. is a Christian and she knows that as Romans 8:28 tells us, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.". She gives God the glory for her incredible healing she has experienced and she gives God the glory when she doesn't get the news from her doctors that she's been praying for. God will use this in her life and He has a plan. She trusts Him and is anxious to see what will happen next.  It's all about living your life in such a way that points others to Christ. Thank you, K.A., for being a positive role model for KK (and me).  You are welcome in our home anytime, and feel free to join us for Hamburger Helper on any given night!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Layered Salad.

Today's recipe is very old school. I mean I can remember having this layered salad at church potluck dinners when I was a little girl....about 10 years ago. Ok, just kidding. It's been a little longer than that. Even though it is a classic, that doesn't mean it still isn't as delicious as ever. My cousin, Wendy, brought this to last year's Christmas gathering. She had hers in a pretty 9x13 glass casserole dish. It was one of the stars of the night for me.  The version I am giving you today is from one of my favorite cooking blogs, I've made many of her recipes and haven't been disappointed yet. It really is something that I like this salad considering that it has one of my least favorite ingredients in peas. I've just never been a fan, but in this salad I really don't notice them or maybe they taste different or I don't know. I think the creamy dressing on top disguises their taste. At any rate, I can tolerate them for this salad. Layered Salad: 2 heads Iceberg lettuce (chopped), 8 ounces Baby Spinach (washed and dried), Salt and Pepper to taste, 8 Hard Boiled Eggs (chopped), 16 ounces Bacon (cooked and chopped), 4 Tomatoes chopped, 1 bunch Green Onions (thinly sliced), 8 ounces Grated Cheddar Cheese, 1 bag (10 ounce) Frozen Peas (partially thawed).  Dressing: 1/2 cups Mayonnaise, 1/2 cups Sour Cream, and 2 Tbsp sugar. In a clear glass bowl, layer salad ingredients in the order they appear above, concentrating ingredients around the perimeter of the bowl and filling in the center with lettuce, if needed. End with the layer of peas. Combine dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well. Pour over the top of the peas and spread to cover, bringing dressing all the way to the edges of the bowl. Cover and refrigerate for up 12 hours. Toss just before serving. This is very yummy! Enjoy!

Friday, September 17, 2010

An Affordable Dinnerware.

Yesterday I was in Wal-Mart. You know, my home away from home. I was headed to the gift wrap section when I spotted the prettiest wire baskets for....$5. There were round and rectangular ones. I, ofcourse, couldn't resist buying one. They are made by Better Homes and Gardens. I got to looking around on that same aisle and came across some more BH&G things that I immediately fell in love with. The dinnerware pictured above is another one of my purchases. Before I go on with the story, I must clarify that I have been using the same everyday dinnerware for fourteen years.  My plates have held up well, but I'm down to about 3 bowls now. Anyways, I have some Vietri entertaining pieces (my sister-in-law sells that line) in Crema, and this BG&H dinnerware matches it so well. Best part, it was only $3 per piece. I was so pumped! I bought all they had. Unfortunately, there were no salad plates in stock (isn't that leaf pattern gorgeous?). I looked on and found it on there, just not in individual pieces. I also bought linen napkins in a burnt orange color and the entertainment pieces pictured above.  Soooo pretty! I didn't really spend that much money and got some pieces that should last me a long time. This dinnerware was also available in two other beautiful colors, orange and green. I'm pretty basic so I chose to stay with the cream color.  I'm excited to add to the collection as I can. Check out all the great Fall decorating items that are out right now in your favorite retail location.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I've Got That Lovin' Fall Feeling!

About a week ago, we had a cool snap. Gorgeous cloudless bright blue skies, crisp air, highs in the 70's - simply glorious weather. That is all it took for me to get excited about decorating for Fall. This past weekend, I headed up to the attic to pull down my Fall decorations. Those pops of oranges, rusts, browns and yellows just make me happy! Now I will confess that I thrive on change, so it comes as no surprise that even something out of my control like the changing of seasons gives me a thrill. And to add to my challenge and excitement, I've just moved into a new house two and a half months ago. So finding just the perfect spot for all my Fall treasures kept me scurrying around the house all day. I am a pumpkin lover, so my decor for Fall is very pumpkin heavy. I have all kinds of pumpkins, different shapes, colors, sizes and made out of different materials. When you are decorating (this goes for any season), don't shy away from grouping things that are different together. I think this gives your home depth and adds a warmth. All that same, same, same just looks unnatural. If you are decorating on a budget, go buy some inexpensive faux pumpkins, glue and fine glitter in the Fall pallet of colors. Last year my daughter (who was five then) and I had a great day of glittering pumpkins. As I pulled them out this year (and yes, they held up fine - better than expected), they gave me a lovely memory of time spent with my precious little girl and they look fabulous sprinkled around my house. Another budget conscious tip - take your topiary from the summer and cover it with fall garlands and orange lights. This looks great at your entry, inside or out. Now for the picture, my new house has this great curved front door just begging for garland. I will be honest and tell you I splurged a bit on the garland with gourds. But consider that this garland will stay up the rest of September, all of October and through November until Thanksgiving. When you look at it that way - it's a bargain! Okay, maybe not a bargain, but you can justify it anyway. This one is actually two garlands - one out of just Fall leaves and one with just gourds and berries. I also chose to wire in mesh fabric and I was so surprised how much bigger the fabric makes the garland appear. I also wound in strands of orange lights so I'm all ready for Halloween. September 23rd is the official start of Fall, so I hope you all get your decorations out soon.  Happy Fall!-----------I just want to thank my guest writer for this post, Christina B. She's got a fabulous sense of style. I appreciate her willingness to do this for me. I got some really great ideas that I can't wait to try out. Thanks again, Christina!

A Healthy Alternative.

So, after yesterday's devilish brownie dessert, I figured I better try to redeem myself and post a recipe that's a little more heart healthy. Actually, it would be stretching it just a little to call this a recipe. It's simply oven roasted potatoes and purple onions. I find great pleasure in roasting things. I cook a wide variety of vegetables and meats like this. Did you know that roasted chicken is much more flavorful than boiled chicken? I learned that from the Barefoot Contessa. I use roasted chicken, when I can, for recipes that call for shredded chicken. Okay, so back to the potatoes. I used a 2 lb bag of red potatoes, one large purple onion, fat free cooking spray, and garlic salt. I cut the potatoes and purple onion into quarters. Layed them out on a large baking sheet and generously sprayed them with cooking spray and tossed them around with my hands so that all sides were coated with spray. Next, I sprinkled them with garlic salt and a little black pepper. I believe the biggest mistake people make when cooking potatoes is under seasoning. Let's face it, it doesn't get much blander than a potato. I found that I had to add a little more salt (I used Kosher this time) at the end to make them a little tastier. I roasted these at 350 degrees F for one hour. You can do this at a higher temp like 425 degrees if you want to speed up the cooking time. I turned these once, with tongs, during the cooking process. I sometimes sprinkle dried rosemary over them for a different flavor, but didn't do that when I made these. I served these potatoes with a low fat chicken dish that I was trying for the first time. The chicken dish bombed (it's kind of hard to bomb a chicken dish, but I somehow managed to), but the potatoes were gobbled up in no time. My son didn't want to try an onion, but I told him they were so sweet they tasted like candy and he ended up loving them. In fact, I could roast a whole pan of onions, by themselves, and make a meal off them. They do get incredibly tender and sweet. So, there you have it, a healthier dish to try. The nurse in me just couldn't let myself enjoy the day if I didn't attempt to make up for yesterday's post. Make these soon and feel good about eating healthier.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Brownie To Die For.

Oh my dear, sweet, happy day. If this doesn't put a smile on your face, then I need to come check your vital signs. And I can do that, you know, because I'm a nurse. Cookies and Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies. *groan* I guess you have to be a real chocolate addict to appreciate the sheer beauty of this picture. Is this something you would want to eat on a regular basis? Unless you want me to perform another one of my "nursey" tricks on you called CPR, when you have a heart attack due to blocked coronary vessels.  However, an occasional indulgence is acceptable. This is actually not that hard to prepare and dear, dear, me the end result is incredible. I got this recipe & picture from a website called, She's got many wonderful recipes posted, so check her out.  And without further delay, here's the recipe: 1 box brownie mix, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, a heaping 1/2 cup cookies & cream ice cream, 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, 1/2 hot fudge topping (chilled), and 1 package of Oreo cookies. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl mix the brownie mix, 2 eggs, and oil until combined...and thick (Do not add the water). Scoop in ice cream, chocolate chips, and hot fudge; mix until combined. Grease an 8x8 inch dish and pour in half of batter. Lay as many Oreos as can fit on top. Next pour remainder of batter on top of Oreos. Bake for 40 mins or until toothpick comes clean from center. Let cool. Finally, have a camera handy to take pictures of everyone's face when they see what they are getting to eat for dessert. Good times!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Lasting Commitment.

Don't you love reading the people & events portion of the newspaper? You can find out about all the upcoming or recent weddings, births, and celebrations. I especially love to read about 50th wedding anniversaries (occasionally you even see a 60th). It reaffirms my faith in the institute of marriage. Yesterday, two very special people, Uncle Wade and Aunt Lovie, celebrated their 57th anniversary. I am so inspired by both of them. As with any marriage, they have experienced good and bad times.  In this day, it is believed that approximately 50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. What has made the difference in my aunt and uncle's marriage? I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is the Lord. You see, the foundation or basis of their relationship is their love for God. In the fifth chapter of Ephesians we read about the Biblical roles for husbands and wives. Verses 22-28 tell us, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.". That's a mouthful isn't it. I believe that as a wife submits to her husband she is also submitting to Christ by obeying His word. The husband, in obedience to God, loves his wife as he loves his own self. This is what I see in Aunt Lovie's and Uncle Wade's marriage. Just imagine a triangle with the wife in one bottom angle and the husband in the other bottom angle. Now envision Christ at the top of the triangle. When you draw the triangle out, you will notice that the line from the husband and the line from the wife get closer and closer until they finally come together in one point under Christ. That's what loving and obeying God will do for you and your spouse. Bring you closer and closer together, until you become one. I'm so thankful for the encouragement I get when I watch my aunt and uncle living out their faith in real life. I would love to be able to have the same kind of testimony with my husband. A lasting's what I want. How about you?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Blueberry Muffin Worth Making.

My favorite cooking show is Barefoot Contessa. I love Ina Garten's sense of style. Some of her recipes are a little too ritzy for me, but for the most part, she uses lots of simple ingredients to create fabulous food. This blueberry muffin recipe is a great example. I once made these to send with my daughter on a church trip in which she would be on a bus for several hours. The group was leaving early in the morning and I thought this would be a good, portable breakfast for them to enjoy. I believe they were gobbled up within thirty minutes of leaving.  I often freeze leftover muffins. It's so easy to throw them in a gallon ziplock bag and forget about it. I can take out however many I need, zap them in the microwave, and enjoy with a cup of coffee. That's my kind of breakfast. These are called Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins. Here's a list of ingredients: 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature), 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3 extra-large eggs (at room temperature), 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 8 ounces sour cream, 1/4 cup milk, 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 2 half-pints fresh blueberries. Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Put 16 paper liners in muffin pans. Cream butter and sugar together in electric mixer until light and fluffy. With mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream and milk. In a seperate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula. Scoop the batter into muffin liners, filling each cup just over the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The muffins should be lightly browned on top. Can I tell you that these are so much better than the muffins you make from the mix that you just have to add milk to. Hey, I'm not judging. I use muffin mixes too. These, however, will get great accolades from the family. And, that's not such a bad thing either.

A Beautiful Flag.

Nine years ago today, our country experienced it's worst terrorist attack....ever. It was a day that sent chills down the spines of all American citizens. We were completely unprepared for the wrath that was unleashed on us on 911.  I'm so thankful for our former President, George W. Bush. He was obviously shaken by the whole experience, but faced the challenge with resolve and determination. He encouraged us to seek the Lord and pray for our country. In the immediate days that followed the attack, I started noticing that American Flags were popping up all over the place. Usually just reserved for such holidays as Memorial Day and Fourth of July, the flags became mainstays on our homes, lawns, cars, t-shirts, etc...It was a way that we could rally together and show our support for our country. Even Republicans and Democrats were able to stand as one united front (if even for a short while). Today, I am thankful for the symbol of the flag. It conjures up feelings of gratitude for our soldiers, past and present, and their dedication. It makes me feel thankful for the freedoms I have that so many other people around the world don't. Our country's well being lies within our ability to seek the face of God. We must get on bended knee and pray that our citizen's hearts' will turn to the one, true God. Pray for mercy in the face of such moral decline. For a while after that September attack, we encouraged that. Now, the shock has worn off and we are back to living for ourselves. Hebrews 4:16 tells us, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.". As Christians, it is our calling to approach that throne of grace everyday through prayer. Our country, our government, and our leaders should be prayed for on a daily basis. When I see our flag flying, I want it to serve as a reminder not only for the freedoms we have been given through our dedicated soldiers, but also the freedoms we have in Christ. Freedom never comes without sacrifice. Just as our flag waves as a symbol to the rest of the world, so must our love for Christ.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Double Portion.

July 2010
It never occurred to me that Lord may choose to bless my family with twins. And then in February of 2007, I found myself on the phone with my sister listening to the shocking news that the "routine" sonongram showed TWO babies. I was thrilled. And believe me, those two girls have made their mark on my life since then. Seriously, they have. They love fingernail polish and lipstick...need I say more?  Ok,  they have blessed my heart in many other ways too. I love them so.  It needs to be said that sometimes God chooses to give us a double portion of blessings.  I honestly feel that I've been blessed beyond measure. I know that it is not based on what I deserve because that would surely be...nothing. I don't want to take for granted that God is the giver and taker of all things. He alone is in control. It's easy to lose sight of this when life is going by without incident. Nehemiah 9:35 tells, "Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying Your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land You gave them, they did not serve You or turn from their evil ways.". Sound familiar? Do our blessings make us thankful to God, or cause us to falsely believe that we are self- sufficient and do not need God?  If we think we don't need God, then we are believing a lie from Satan. Satan only wants to see harm come our way. We do well not to fall for any of his tricks. I want to be thankful to God and draw closer to Him regardless if times are good or bad. Serve God faithfully. Seek Him and you will find His goodness knows no limits. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Lovely Day.

September 2010
See that guy in the kayak? Well, he's mine. So back off.  Haha! I'm just being funny. I took this picture on Labor Day while my family relaxed at the lake. It was such a lovely day too. The temps were in the mid 80's and the sun was shining bright. We all took turns kayaking and jet skiing. There was much laughter to be heard. Some even enjoyed pushing unsuspecting people into the water. I ran around taking pictures of everybody. It was the perfect day to bid summer farewell. And you know the craziest thing of all? We almost didn't go. It seemed like the logistics of getting a family of six ready for a day at the lake was a little overwhelming. And really, who needs the dirty beach towels and wet swimsuits to deal with? What would I feed everyone? Was the sunblock bottle empty? All the usual pessimistic thoughts started coming to mind. Then I decided that things didn't have to be perfect for us to be able to enjoy ourselves. Wasn't this supposed to be a laid back day? So we rounded everyone up, ordered pizza, bought some bottled water and sodas, found the last of the sunblock, and off we went. The jet ski and kayak were waiting on us when we got there. I'm so glad that I didn't let myself get in the way of what turned out to be a truly memorable family experience. Oh, and about the cutie in the kayak...I ❤ him!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Favorite Salad.

I guess I would have to say that my history with salads has been one of love and hate. I want so desperately to be one of those kind of girls who whip out a small, green salad for lunch everyday and eat a few bites and then declare, "Oh, that was delicious. I'm stuffed.". I'm just not that girl. I'll try it from time to time, but I usually end up eating a Ding Dong an hour later. Anyone identify? Well, I recently decided that salads can be fun, interesting, flavorful, low fat, and wait for it....surprisingly filling. I experimented with some different kinds of greens, threw in some new veggies, cooked up a little turkey bacon, and tried my hand at making my own vinagerette. It's been fun and I am really finding combinations that I like. Today, I am posting the recipe for one of my favorite standby salads for company. I call it My Favorite Salad. People ask for the recipe all the time, so I guess I'm not the only one who loves it. I typically use Romaine Lettuce (about 3 heads) mixed with Baby Spinach (1/2 a bag) for the greens. My sister in law sells Vietri and I have the perfect cream colored bowl that I bought from her. I always serve this salad in that bowl. Remember, we eat with our eyes too, so make it pretty. You also need: 3 green onions chopped, 2 Tbsp. roasted sunflower seeds, 6 slices of fried bacon (crumbled), and 1 cup of chow mein noodles. Toss with your greens. The dressing couldn't be easier: Whisk together 4 Tbsp. vinegar, 4 Tbsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper & slowly pour in 1/2 cup vegetable oil while you continue to whisk OR you can put it all into a shaker and mix it that way. You want to dress this salad immediately prior to serving it because the chow mein noodles get limp as time goes by. Sadly, this salad does not make for good leftovers because of that very reason. I'm thinking that's not going to be a problem you'll have to deal with though. This one is pretty much a winner. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Softball Player.

This is a picture of a softball player. She's not just any softball player either. She's mine. I have loved her since she was just a twinkle in mine and Mr. K's eyes. Recently, she experienced some disappointment over something that she has wanted ( for some time), but did not get. Is it a big deal in the grand scheme of things? No, but it is a big deal to her at this point in her life. Do I hurt when my children hurt? Yes, I do.  However, I have to bend my knee to the Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace...everyday. I know that God uses disappointments and heartaches to shape and mold us into His image. Romans 5:3,4 tells us, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.". I want those qualities in my children. I want that growth for them. I know that God has a perfect plan for my girl and I have to trust Him. He wants her to experience the unrivaled joy and satisfaction that comes from trusting and obeying Him. There WILL be pain, disappointments, heartaches, etc...that's just life. I have to be thankful for them too, because I know that there are blessings waiting on the other side.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Soup for Labor Day.

In honor of Labor Day, I have pretty much done absolutely nothing all day. Well, as far as house chores are concerned. I have spent the entire day enjoying my husband, my children, my nieces & nephews, my cat.....all the important people. It's been great. I would love to spend tomorrow just the same way, but that's not going to happen now is it. So, in keeping with the relaxed atmosphere of the day, I decided to make my kids their all time favorite soup for supper. Soup is a staple in my home in the Fall & Winter. Oh, how I am ready for Fall. Maybe that's another subconscious reason why I made soup for supper. I digress. I would love to share the recipe for this soup, I call Chicken Tortilla, but I've never really followed a precise regimen in making it. Here's basically what I do: Buy a family pack of bone in chicken breasts and boil in large pot until cooked. I usually throw in a nice heap of salt, a quartered onion, and maybe a few stalks of celery in the pot with the chicken. It flavors the broth. Remove cooked chicken and shred it, then strain broth. Return strained broth back to pot and bring to boil.  Add in 1 1/2 cups instant rice (I use brown) and a large onion that has been chopped. Cook until rice is ready and onion is tender. Now this is the tricky part. I usually have to add a large container of chicken broth at this point, depending on how much of the broth the rice has absorbed. Throw in 2 large cans of petite diced tomatoes with juice, a can of chopped green chiles, a can of shoepeg corn, and the shredded chicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If I have it, I will squeeze the juice of one lime or lemon in as well. It brightens the flavor in an unbelievable way. Cook over low flame until heated through. Remove from heat and add in 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup monterey jack cheese, and 2 Tbsp. dried cilantro (ofcourse, use fresh if you have it). Lightly crush some tortilla chips in bottom of soup bowl and ladle soup on. Sprinkle with a little more cheese if desired. Watch your kids run to the kitchen when you tell them what's on the menu. This was kind of long to explain, but really the hardest part is boiling the chicken. And how hard is that? This makes a large pot and it's perfect to have for leftovers for the rest of the week. And believe me, I know a thing or two about leftovers. 

A Dressed Up Yogurt.

I am currently in a Bible study, Breaking Free (Beth Moore), that meets on Friday mornings. We all signed up to bring breakfast once during the study. I recently had my turn and I took Dressed Up Yogurt and blueberry muffins. They were both well received. Today I am giving the recipe for  the yogurt dish. I should call it Darlene's Dressed Up Yogurt because my friend, Darlene, gave me the recipe. However, I don't like to get too wordy, so I will just give her the credit this way. I made this in a 9x13 glass dish and it looked so pretty. Start with a box of granola and 1 stick of butter. I bought Cascadian Farms Oat & Honey granola (on the cereal aisle in Wal-Mart). It is delicious AND it doesn't have nuts in it. My second daughter is highly allergic to tree nuts and finding this was sweet because usually granola has almonds or other nuts in it. So now my KK can eat it too. That makes me happy. Sigh. Anyways, use about 3/4 of the box of granola with 1 stick of melted butter stirred in. Pat it in the bottom of the glass dish. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees and let cool completely. Then take one large container of strawberry yogurt (I used Yoplait) and an 8 oz reduced fat bar of cream cheese (softened). Mix the two thoroughly, then fold in a 12 oz Cool Whip.  Spread this yogurt mixture on top of the granola crust and chill in the fridge. This makes an amazing breakfast. I had leftovers from the Bible Study and ended up eating a small portion of it every morning for the next week. I even think it would be good to just throw some of the plain granola in a pretty parfait glass and layer with the yogurt mixture, sliced strawberries, and end with a little more of the granola on top. However you prepare it, I believe you are going to like the end result. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Birthday.

September 2009
Today, a niece is celebrating her first birthday party. I can't even believe it's been a year since we all gathered at the hospital in anticipation of her arrival. I actually got to be in the delivery room along with my brother in law and a few other members of our family. It doesn't get much more exciting than that. As I reflect on the children in my greater family, I am reminded of my responsibility to them concerning teaching them about the Lord. In Deuteronomy 11:19, 20 Moses was giving the Israelites specific instructions from the Lord. He says, "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and mind; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.". sounds like to me that the only times we don't have opportunity to teach our children about God and His Word are when they're asleep. I have to take this to heart. I do believe that God should penetrate our lives so fully, that it should come as second nature to work Him into our conversations with our kids in whatever we are doing with them. I love to go into a home that is adorned with scripture passages in wall hangings, on paintings, crosstitched, etc...It makes me feel joyful. Imagine how effective it is for our children to see us living out our faith in our own lives. They are ever watching. I feel this way not only about my four little "sets of eyes", but also ALL the little eyes that are watching me. So as I prepare to celebrate another milestone in my family, I am determined this next year to walk more closely with God and bring my children along with me.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Meal for a Crowd.

Don't you love versatile recipes? This taco meat falls into that category. It makes a large pot which can be divided up into portions suitable for you and frozen for later use OR if the local football team happens to drop in for dinner then use it all. Brown 4-5 lbs of ground beef or tukey and season to taste. Add in 2 cups of cooked brown rice. Then add 2 cans each of the following: pinto beans, kidney beans, and black beans (preferably Bush's). Throw in a jar of mango chutney and let it all simmer together about 15 minutes. How easy was that? I keep taco shells and flour tortillas in my pantry because the kids love Mexican food. This meat can also be used in taco salads, burritos, enchiladas, etc... I bet it would even be good as the base for taco soup. I got this recipe off of Sandy Coughlin's website, She is the author of the book (by the same name) that I mentioned a few days ago. Her style really speaks to me and I've gotten some valuable tips and recipes from her too. Oh and by the way, the Bunko party I had last night was a hit. I served another one of her recipes, Chicken Divan, and it was delicious! As I washed dishes last night, I noticed that nearly all of them were licked clean. That made me very happy. I'll share that recipe soon!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Bunko Event.

I am getting ready to host a Bunko event at my home tomorrow night. There are 12 women in our group. Each lady takes a turn hosting it once a year.  My husband doesn't mind me being a part of  it because it allows me to "get out" once a month and when I come home I am usually relaxed and reenergized. He also knows that the women I play with are great role models for me. I am planning on serving Chicken Divan over Rice, Green Beans with Carmalized Shallots, My Favorite Salad, and French Bread.  Brownie Trifle will be dessert.  It's an oldie, but goodie. My sister in law went with me to a local store to buy my gifts. She has a great eye for that kind of thing. We had the best time picking them out. My group did not meet for bunko in August so I had to buy two months worth of gifts (my Mom split the cost with me since we combined her month with mine).  I bought a beautiful iron Votive holder with a tea light, a pretty Fall tea towel, a small Currant scented Woodwick Candle, A Vera Bradley journal, a big iron key that is made to hang on the wall, a turquoise picture frame, another Fall scented candle, an orange tile picture frame, a unique pottery pinch bowl, and a square recycled glass plate. The store owner wrapped them beautifully and I'm excited to see my friends' faces as they open them. It's good to have parties at my house because it forces me to get some chores done that I might not otherwise do. I recently bought a book called The Reluctant Entertainer (off of Amazon). It has recipes and tips for opening your home up for entertaining. The author is a believer and uses Scripture throughout the book. I have really enjoyed referring to it and the chicken recipe I will be preparing is in it. I promise to post some recipes soon. For now, I must get my rest because tomorrow is going to be busy!

A Mission.

Jordan with my girls.
Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field." Matthew 9:37, 38. Yes, the harvest is plentiful. That is becoming more evident with each passing day. Jesus felt so strongly about sending out "workers" into the "harvest field" that it was the last command He gave as He ascended back to Heaven in the book of Mark. Go and Preach the Good news to ALL creation.....Our calling, as Christians, is to share God's love and His plan of salvation with people. This can be done anywhere, in a foreign country or our right in our own backyard.
Today, I am excited to share that my oldest niece, Jordan, will be leaving on Saturday to go on a mission trip to Honduras. She is filled with anticipation to see what the Lord is going to do through it. I am so thankful that she has a heart for God and wants to serve Him in this capacity. Please join me in praying for this team as they go and spread the Good News. This is her first time to leave the country and her family is feeling a little anxious about all the "what ifs", but we rest in the knowledge that God is in control. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. I will get Jordan to share some highlights of the trip on this blog when she returns. In the meantime, I pray that we all look for ways to share God's love in our everyday lives. God has called His people to be workers in this great harvest. Will you be one of the few?