Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Buckeye Bark

I love buckeyes (or peanut butter balls), but they can be a lot of work and sometimes they don't turn out 'pretty' because the peanut butter ball (even when frozen) starts melting as you're trying to to dip them in chocolate. Please tell me I'm not the only who has that problem! :) I saw an idea for making bars (or bark) out of them and thought I'd give it a try to see how well it worked. Let me tell you, I'm not sure I'll ever go through the pain of rolling them into balls and dipping them was so quick and easy! 

Buckeye Bark
adapted from Joy of Baking

12 oz chocolate chips
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 - 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Melt 6 oz chocolate chips and spread thinly onto paper. Stick in freezer to set up while you make the peanut butter mixture.

Place the peanut butter, unsalted butter, and salt in a microwaveable bowl, and heat in the microwave for about one minute or until just soft (check and stir the ingredients every 20-30 seconds). Stir in the vanilla extract and confectioners sugar and mix until it has the consistency of a stiff dough (add more sugar if necessary). Spread over chocolate.

Melt the remaining 6 oz of chocolate chips and spread on top of peanut butter. Stick in refrigerator until chocolate is hard. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

Are buckeyes on your Christmas baking list? 
Why not make it a little bit easier on yourself this year and try making buckeye bark?!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Sugar Cookies

These are my go-to sugar cookies. We like to eat them plain, with sprinkles, and sometimes with frosting. I made some the other night after we went Christmas tree hunting and determined that I need to make them with frosting more often! Not only are they more delicious with frosting, but they're cuter too!

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Decorative Frosting

1 cup powder sugar

1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1-3 drops lemon juice (optional)

Sift powder sugar to remove lumps.
Add all ingredients to bowl and mix until combined.
Add more milk as needed to achieve desired consistency.

There's a couple different ways you can use this frosting. You can just brush the icing on with a small paint brush which is what I did for the Christmas tree cookies, or you can use the outline and flood method - check out i am baker's sugar cookie decorating 101.  

Here's a few other pictures of cookies I've made in the past using the outline and flood method. 

Don't those just make you want to go make some cookies?!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Christmas Tree Hunt

For the past several years we've gone out into the woods to cut down our own Christmas tree. You can go here and here to see pictures from previous years. There's just something about tromping through the woods and snow to find a tree, it's very festive and makes for good times and fun memories!

Monday, December 2, 2013

An Interview

We recently had Brother Jeff Copes from HBBC come a preach a revival at our church. All of the messages were very good, but there was one in particular that I wanted to share with you. 

If we were wanting to conduct an interview with someone about how to have a close walk with the Lord, who would we go to? Out of all of the great men and women in our lives and that we read of in the Bible, there is man man that sticks out as being able to give us the best advice. Just like all of us he wasn't perfect, but he's the only one the Lord acknowledges as being "a man after mine own heart." As I'm sure you've guessed by now, I'm referring to David.

The following is an 'interview' with David concerning his walk with the Lord. 

Reporter: "David, tell us about your relationship with the Lord."

David: "I love the LORD, (Psalm 116:1)"

R: "Why?"

D: "Because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. (116:1)"
{Not only does the Lord hear our prayers, but He also hears our voice - He hears our groaning when we can't find the words to pray.} 

R: "Tell us more. Why do you love the Lord?"

D: "Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, (116:2)"

R: "What is that going to make you do?"

D: "Therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. (116:2)"

R: "David, describe different seasons in your life."

D: "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell got hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. (116:3)"

R: "What did you do?"

D: "Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. (116:4)"

R: "What did you find?"

D: "Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. (116:5,6)"

David seems lost in his thoughts at this time as he seems to relive what he has experienced, and reminds himself: "Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. (116:7)"

I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. (Psalms 116:1, 2 KJV)


If you go read Psalm 116 you'll see that the chapter doesn't end there, but that's as far as Brother Copes went with the interview (or at least what I have in my notes ;)). It was such a blessing to me, and I've read over it several times since then. I hope this was a blessing to you as well!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving '13

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know I sure did! It was a wonderful times spent with family and friends. One of the special things about the day was that we got to use my great-grandma's china! I had so much fun setting it all up!
I wanted to take advantage of this Thanksgiving season to teach the kids what it means to be thankful. I made a thankful tree and we spent many afternoons coloring leaves, asking them what they were thankful for, writing it on the leaf, and letting them glue it on the tree. I also made up a little song about thankfulness and taught them "In every thing give thanks." It was a fun craft for the month of November, and a great way to teach the kids to be thankful!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful For Trials?

Just like anyone else, I've had some hard times in life. I shared a very personal story with you not too long ago (thank you for your kind words!), and there have been other things that will probably never be on the blog. Do you know what though? I'm thankful for those times! I know it sounds crazy, but it was during those times that I grew as a person. God used those trials in my life to change me and teach me things. And for that, I will always be thankful! 

Ps 119:71 - It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

"Every struggle in your life has shaped you into the person you are today. Be thankful for the hard times; they can only make you stronger." -unknown

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Grilled Cheese & Parmesan Tomato Soup

Grilled cheese and tomato soup is definitely one of those 'comfort foods'. I'm not the biggest fan of canned tomato soup, but homemade soup is a different story! I tried this recipe recently and really liked it, although I confess I made it a little different than the original recipe. :) There are a few other changes I would make next time too, so that's what I've written down for you. Enjoy!

Parmesan Tomato Soup
adapted from Your Home Based Mom

3 - 15 oz. cans of petite diced tomatoes, with juice
1 C finely diced celery
1 C finely chopped carrots
1 C finely diced onions
4 C chicken broth
1/2 C flour
1/2 C grated Parmesan Cheese (add more to taste)
1/2 C butter
2 C half and half, warmed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper
Baby Spinach

Pulse the tomatoes, celery, carrots, and onions in a food processor, then put in crockpot with chicken broth. 
Cover and cook on Low for 5-7 hours.
Approx thirty minutes before serving make the roux.
Melt butter over low heat in a skillet and add in flour.
Stir constantly for about 5 minutes
Slowly add in 1 cup of hot soup.
Add in 3 more cups of soup and stir until smooth.
Put all back into the crock pot.
Stir and add Parmesan cheese, warmed half and half, salt, pepper, and oregano.
Cover and let cook on low for another 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
Add desired amount of baby spinach to individual servings.

Monday, November 25, 2013

What I'm Using: Makeup

1. almay cc cream // 2. mary kay mineral powder // 3. mary kay mineral blush in sunny spice // 4. almay intense i-color bold nudes for blue eyes // 5. ecotools eye brush set // 6. maybelline eyestudio gel eyeliner // 7. cover girl flamed out mascara // 8. revlon nearly naked pressed powder 

What I use for makeup can change throughout the year - there aren't many products that I'm 'faithful' to. I like to experiment with different things, and sometimes I change products because my needs change. 

Normally I have an oily complexion, but with the change in weather my skin has been very dry. I've had to change my skin care routine, and pretty much stop using powder all together. Right now I'm using almay cc cream as a foundation which I really like, but when I'm able to use powder I LOVE mary kay mineral powder. I've tried so many different ones, and that's by far my favorite. I like to have pressed powder in my purse in case I need to 'powder my nose', and revlon nearly naked is perfect for the job. :) 

For my eyes, I'm really liking the trio for blue eyes by almay. Typically I do a smoky eye by using all three colors, but when I don't feel like doing that I'll use the two lightest shades. I don't like using the little applicator that comes with eye shadows, so I have the brush set by ecotools that I really like! In the past I've used a pencil eyeliner, but I was having problems with it leaving it's mark on my upper eyelid by the end of the day...not pretty. So, I picked up this gel eyeliner and I'm pretty happy with it so far although it seems my eye shadow is finding it's way on my eyeliner. Maybe a primer would fix that? Mascara is probably the thing that I change up the most. I usually try something new every time. 

Hopefully this wasn't too boring. :) I like seeing what other people use, so I thought it would be fun to share what I'm using right now! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Mia Familia

I love my family SO much and am thankful for the wonderful relationship we have. I know not every one has a great relationship with their family, so I definitely don't want to take what we have for granted. It's definitely because of the Lord! I am so BLESSED!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What's For Dinner || Healthier General Tso's Chicken

I'm a big fan of Asian food. I like trying recipes at home, but a lot of times they call for strange ingredients that are hard to find and/or expensive, plus they don't always taste as good. However, this recipe for General Tso's Chicken is easy and really yummy. It's a win-win situation!

Healthier General Tso's Chicken
adapted from Kitchen Simplicity

1 pound chicken
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
8 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups snow peas, trimmed and halved diagonally

For sauce: Mix together water and cornstarch until smooth. Stir in remaining garlic, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and snow peas. Set aside.

For chicken: Cut into bite size pieces. Season with salt and pepper.

To cook: Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken in a small amount of oil. Once chicken is done, add sauce to skillet and cook until snow peas are tender and sauce is thickened. 

Serve with rice.

Monday, November 4, 2013

What Makes Me Happy

It's hard to believe that it's already November. Am I right?! The year has absolutely flown by! 

As soon as November hits, we start seeing lots of posts, status updates, tweets, etc about things that we're thankful for. Even though we are thankful all year round, there's just something about the month that holds Thanksgiving that stirs up in us a desire to express our gratitude even more. 

I was looking up some quotes about thankfulness and I found this one...

:: It's not happy people who are thankful, 
but thankful people who are happy ::

How true is this?! I know in my own life, I find that I'm more happy when I'm thankful rather than complaining. Funny how that works! 

There are several things that I want to talk about this month that I'm thankful for, but the first one is the Lord. I don't even want to imagine where I'd be without Him. Not only has He saved my soul, but He is with me guiding me and directing me every day. Seriously, how do people go through life without Christ? He's all I need! 

He loves me when I'm unlovable. He gives me mercy when I don't deserve it. He gives me grace to get through the hard stuff. He gives me peace that surpasses all understanding. There is such joy in knowing the Lord! 

What about you? Do you know the Lord and the joy that He brings?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What's For Dinner || Sour Cream Enchiladas

Several years ago we went to a friend's house and they made Sour Cream Enchiladas. Let me tell you, it was love at first bite. Turns out we had the recipe for them in an old church cookbook, but had never made them, at least not that I remembered. 

They quickly became a favorite in our home. Just tonight as I was making them, someone walked up and asked, "Are you making sour cream enchiladas?!?!" I had to ask them to leave before they drooled all over my ingredients. Ok, so maybe it didn't happen exactly like that, but I think you get the point. ;)

Sour Cream Enchiladas

1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 lb hamburger
2 cups grated cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp salt
4 oz can chopped green chilies
1 dozen flour tortillas

Brown hamburger and onion together, drain fat. Stir in most of the cheese.

Combine soup, sour cream, salt, and chilies in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Place a small amount of hamburger filling in the center of a tortilla. Spoon some sauce over it. Roll up and place in greased 9x13 pan. Repeat until you use all of the hamburger mixture. Pour remaining sauce on top of tortillas. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

Bake at 350* for 20-30 minutes.

ps...I think I need to work on my food photography

Friday, October 25, 2013

Whose Cupcake Is Best Of All?

Last year Maggie & I had a 'cupcake war,' and we decided that it would be fun to do it again! Nicki was in town for the weekend so she joined us in our fun! We had it at church after the evening service, and all of the adults that were there had the sweet job of being judges. :)

All ready to be judged!

Nicki made pumpkin cupcakes with a cinnamon drizzled whipped cream frosting. I made a lemon meringue cupcake. Maggie made a chai cupcake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. They were all so yummy! Yet only one could be the winner!

And the winner?? ME!!! Woo hoo! I was so happy that I didn't lose two years in a row. haha 

Here they are up close...first, second, and third place!

We had so much fun with our little 'war' against each other! I'm already thinking about next year! :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What's For Dinner || Chicken Noodle Soup & Rolls

With three women in the house it has worked best for us to having a cooking schedule. My days to cook are on Tuesdays and Saturdays. As much as I love cooking, I have to say that having a schedule and actually getting to plan what you're going to make makes it even more enjoyable.

Tonight's menu consisted of this...

The soup is just a basic recipe, but yummy nonetheless. The rolls however...these are so delicious. We've had this recipe for years, passed down by a friend, and there's never any complaints when they find their way to the dinner table. :) If you've never had these, you've been missing out...until now that is. Here's the recipe so you can enjoy them as well!

Garlic Cheese Rolls

4 3/4 to 5 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 pkg yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 TBS parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt. Heat milk, water, and butter until very warm (120* to 130*); stir into dry ingredients. Stir in egg and enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (about 6-8 minutes). Cover; let rest on floured surface 10 minutes.

With a sharp knife, divide dough into 24 pieces. Shape into balls, place in greased 11x14 pan. In small bowl, combine butter and garlic; pour over rolls. Sprinkle parmesan over rolls.

Cover, and let rise in warm oven 30-45 minutes until doubled.

Preheat to 375. Bake for 15 minutes until golden.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall + Family = Love

My brother, Josh, and his wife, Liz, recently came for a visit! We hadn't seen them since their wedding last summer, so it was wonderful getting to spend some time with them! While we were together we took the opportunity to have some family pictures taken. Here's a few of our favorites!

photo courtesy: uncle Brad ;)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Fall is here! It's time to start breaking out the sweaters and scarves; time to start making soups and all things pumpkin flavored!

I love fall! It's my favorite season, but I also love different aspects of others seasons as well. The newness of each season brings excitement and anticipation for everything it has to offer. 

Spring has a special newness about it as everything seems to come back to life after hibernation through winter. Flowers are blooming, trees budding, and gardens begin sprouting evidence of harvest. Summer brings vacations and family reunions that are much anticipated. Days spent soaking up the sun in flip flops (or barefoot!) and sunglasses while the kids are playing in the kiddie pool are wonderful! 

Fall comes almost overnight (at least this year it did!). All of a sudden there's a chill in the air, and leaves are changing into glorious shades of red, yellow and orange! Before you know it snow is falling and winter has arrived. Snowmen are built, Christmas trees are decorated, and there's a calmness surrounding the beauty of the snow covered hills. I just love the changing of the seasons. God has it planned so well, doesn't He? The seasons seem to change at just the right time.

As I reflect on a God's perfect timing with the seasons of weather, I can't help but think about His timing in the seasons of life. We all go through times of anticipating what's coming next whether it's finishing school, getting married, having children, or even retiring! 

Sometimes we can get impatient and want to hurry through and get to the next phase in life, but if we understand Who is in control we can begin to relax and enjoy the season we're going through. If I find myself becoming impatient I have to remind myself that God's timing is perfect and it will be beautiful in HIS time, not mine. Ecclesiastes 3:11a - "He hath made every thing beautiful in his time:" 

I don't know about you, but I don't want to have any regrets of wasting this season I'm in. God has me here for a reason and I want to bring Him glory and honor while I'm here. Let's slow down and cherish the seasons we're in. Even if it's not your favorite; look for the beauty!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cabin 5

Last week Maggie & I had the privilege of taking 6 girls to summer camp. We had such a great time with these girls as we were able to get to know some of them better and meet new friends as well! Camp was filled with fun games, delicious food, but most importantly excellent preaching! Messages ranged from salvation to doing things God's way to letting God use you. It was a blessing to see that even though there were plenty of activities to keep the kids busy and having fun, the main focus of camp was definitely on spiritual things. It did my heart good to see our girls making decisions for Christ, especially when one of them chose to accept His gift of salvation! I'm so thankful that I had the opportunity to go, and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Better, Not Bitter

We all have them – situations that happened to us that could have easily made us bitter against God and others. We wonder why God has allowed it into our lives, and then we make a choice. We’re going to become bitter about it, or we’re going to let God use it to make us better. Maybe it’s not in your past. Maybe it’s your present – you’re going through it right now! We’re all different. God has allowed different trials into each of our lives, and they serve a purpose. We need to learn to allow them they make us better, which in turn will bring glory and honor to God.

"But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;" - Philippians 1:12
For quite some time now I’ve been contemplating/praying about sharing my story with you. I've been trying to decide if it's too personal, and do I really want everyone to know? But, there have been so many times I've been encouraged and blessed by others sharing their testimony, and I felt it was time to share mine. You might already know about it, but there’s still quite a few of you who don’t. My purpose in this is not to make anyone feel sorry for me, but rather to encourage you and say, “Look at what God did in my life! This trial wasn’t fun, it wasn’t comfortable, but it changed my life!” 
"Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." - 2 Corinthians 1:4

If you asked me what I wanted to do when I ‘grew up’, my answer would be (and still is) to get married and have a family. It’s been a dream of mine. Seven years ago, that dream almost became a reality.
We had known each other most of our lives, but because of our age difference we never spent any time with each other.  That all changed the summer I graduated high school. We started hanging out more and getting to know each other.  That fall he moved for a ministry opportunity, but not without asking my dad’s permission to get to know me better. We were officially a couple. Over the next several months our relationship grew and before I knew it he came home for a surprise visit, I went back with him to visit his new home, and we became engaged! I quickly became busy planning a July wedding, but then things started changing. He moved back home, the wedding was postponed, and he was different. Several months went by and we weren’t any closer to setting a new wedding date and I was beginning to feel like something was wrong. When he was younger he had gotten into trouble with drugs and alcohol, but had gotten victory over it. Was his past starting to show up again? I certainly had my suspicions, but I couldn’t accuse without evidence. So I started praying – asking the Lord that if something was going on to bring it out into the light. About a week later I was waiting for him to come over and he called. Instead of saying he was running late and would be there soon, he began to tell me that he had gone back to his old lifestyle. I felt like my heart had been ripped out. The following day he came over to sit down with my parents and I, where we called off the engagement but also told him we still loved him and offered our support for him to get his life back on track. We continued to stay in communication for a little while as I was hoping he would get some help, but I soon felt the Lord’s leading to cut ties with him. If he was going to get help, it needed to be for himself and the Lord and not for anyone else. That was the last time I talked to him.
For the next year I struggled. I cried…A LOT. It was a really low point in my life. But it was in my weakness Christ's strength was magnified. He became my rock. I had a lot of spiritual struggles during this time, but I knew that Christ was the answer and I had to keep going back to Him. Little by little, day by day, I was getting stronger. Christ was changing me.
"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." - 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10
I often say that it was about a year before I got back to the normal me, but in reality I never did. I came out of that storm a new person. I was stronger in my faith and had a new zeal for serving the Lord. Something that might not have happened if it wasn't for this time in my life. So you see, even though I would never wish this on anyone, I can honestly say I'm thankful for it, because it was for my good and for His glory!
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

"Among the huge Atlantic-waves of bereavement, poverty, temptation, and reproach, we learn the power of Jehovah, because we feel the littleness of man. Thank God, then, if you have been led by a rough road: it is this which has given you your experience of God's greatness and lovingkindness. Your troubles have enriched you with a wealth of knowledge to be gained by no other means: your trials have been the cleft of the rock in which Jehovah has set you, as he did his servant Moses, that you might behold his glory as it passed by." - Charles Spurgeon
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