Monday, January 31, 2011

Taking a Break

It's Monday, and as I look out my window into the backyard it's all gray and winter-y. The weather people say it looks like a "massive winter storm" could be coming our way - but, I never believe it til it's on the ground.

This week I've decided to go on a little vacation. No, nowhere sunny and warm. And, it won't take me long to get there. You see, it's just a little vacay from the ol' computer. Sure I'll still need to check emails, etc. now and then - but, overall, I'm turning it off so I can focus on home and health for a bit.

So, if you start to wonder where on earth I am... I'm catching up on life. Things I've found myself neglecting for the sake of my "virtual escape". :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mac N' Cheese Please!

Before I share the most-awesomest-delish-mac n' cheese recipe, I need to take a look back a year ago. This is my lil girl - exactly a year apart - in pictures!

I could easily feel very sad about a few things:
1) I kinda miss those chubby cheeks
2) Her hair was so short and baby-ish

But, instead, I praise the Lord for my big, strong, healthy 2 yr old! She has a sense of humor, she's intelligent and I'm so thankful for her! It's fun to take a look back - and just be amazed at how children grow so quickly.

The last few nights I've been having a HORRIBLE reoccuring dream about my girl. It's always starts the same and ends the same - though the details surrounding it vary a little. It's always that I end up losing my girl in some terrible tragic way. Awful. I woke up crying in my sleep TWICE last night! Ugh. Praying this dream could just go a-way! {and this miserable head cold...but, that's another post}

To take my mind off of that - I have a wonderful recipe to share with you. We had this lastnight and it was a hit! It's probably my new favorite mac n' cheese recipe. So cheesy!

Double-Cheese Macaroni

16 oz. box elbow macaroni
3 c. cottage cheese
1/2 c. butter cubed
1/2 c. flour
1 t. salt
1/2 t. white pepper
1/4 t. garlic salt
3 c. half n half cream
1 c. milk
4 c. shredded cheddar
1 c. dry bread crumbs
1/4 c. butter, melted

1) Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, place cottage cheese in a food processor; cover and process until smooth. Set aside.

(oh, come on! You knew I would have to show off my newest gadget, right?! Besides, have you ever heard of processing cottage cheese?)

2) In a large saucepan, melt better. Stir in the flour, salt, white pepper and garlic salt until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 mins. or until thickened.
3) Drain macaroni; transfer to a large bowl. Add the cheddar, cottage cheese and white sauce; toss or stir to coat. Transfer to a greased 9x13.
4) Combine crumbs and melted butter - sprinkle over pasta. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until bubbly. (and YES, it's a heaping dish that will leak all over your oven and make your home smell like you are burning it down)

I served this with some steamed broccoli and almonds with a little italian seasoning on top. :) And, yes, I was the only one who ate the broccoli and almonds - my 2 year old took one bite and literally used the words, "yuck". SERIOUSLY, 2?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blogs to Share

In the last few weeks I've come across some Intriguing, Interesting and just plain Wonderful blogs and sites. Share-worthy stuff.

A Bowl of Moss and Pebbles is so serene and deep. I love her calmness. I love her thoughtfulness and thoughts about nature and what not... my kinda reading. And, it helps to know I'm not the only weirdo who likes cold weather. Did I mention that in all this GREATNESS she's just 19?! What was I doing at 19?

{in}courage is probably my new fave. I love's worth of reading. And, yes, I do check it daily. SO encouraging! And it's one of those sites that make me want to jump into the Word and get growing... truly, truly, stands up to it's title! They have a book club, too - which, is totally worth your checking out! I'm planning on joining up for their read through Ann Voskamp's book here soon.

Sew Much Ado is challenging and makes me want to bust out my sewing machine (learn how to use it) and get busy! She offers patterns, tips and LOTS OF tutorials! All your crafty-homemaker types {or, the wannabe's like me} should head there... now.
So, there ya go. Some fun new reads for your blog list!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lots of things jammed into one post

I'm random.
Always have been.
And today is no different. Especially as I woke up feeling VERY random... er, did I even sleep lastnight? Not being able to take anything while pregnant for a VERY congested self is awful. And I suspect Ava is having bad dreams lately... so, the combo means... very little sleep for me.

Date night was fun lastnight! We had a FREE Noodle Zoo meal and then {drumroll} went curtain shopping. You see, still, after almost 2 years - we have ZERO curtains up in our home. So it was well overdue! We found what we wanted and are on track to have a full living room of curtains by this weekend. *Fingers Crossed* My question is... WHY are those things SO expensive?! Oh well. The hubs was on board with paying whatever - so, we'll just do as we are told. :) And I have to just say - THANK THE LORD - for friends who ask to take your child so you can go on a date. I am so so so so thankful for our special 'sitters last night! :)

Let me put up a horrible-quality picture right now.
These two coffees - oh my. I bought the starbucks the other day after having the biggest craving of my life for vanilla coffee, thinking it would be vanilla-latte-ish. It's. Not. I'm so seriously disappointed with it. It's bitter - no matter how I make it - and, it was expensive. Lesson learned. To the left is the Folgers, which, I think gets a bad wrap. I grew up on folgers and didn't become a coffee snob until college... this week I went back to my roots. I had a high dollar coupon for this bag of coffee - making it less then $4! And guess what? It TASTE like hazelnut, smells good when brewing... and is smooth! I told my hubs that I might be making the switch back to Folgers in all categories here soon. Especially as the price of SB keeps on the upswing! See, random.

Yesterday afternoon Ava & I worked on a baking project together. She adores working with me in the kitchen - and I'm learning to loosen up, let the mess happen, and teach her things. We made Blueberry Moon pastries. Yum! It's a simple 4 ingredient recipe and takes a total of like 20 minutes to make (with baking). Ava loved helping me roll out the crescent roll dough and a few times I felt my eyes go misty just watching her learn and LOVE being with me! Can it always stay like this?! Her favorite job was brushing the tops of the pastries with egg.

Here's the recipe:

Blueberry Moon Pastries
3 (8oz) cans crescent rolls
21 oz. can blueberry pie filling (you can use your favorite filling if not a blueberry fan)
1 beaten egg
sugar for topping
*Optional extras: white choco chips, chopped nuts, coconut

1) Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease two cookie sheets.
2) Separate crescent rolls. Place 1 heaping T. of blueberry filling on the larger end of each roll *top with extras if using* and roll up.
3) Brush the tops with beaten egg, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake 10-14 minutes or until golden brown. Best served warm - makes 24!

It's a super easy recipe to make with your toddler or little one! And, taste FABULOUS warmed up with a mug of coffee. :) Good luck!

And, my last random thought for the day...
I GOT A FREE BOOK! or, I'm getting one :) Not sure how many people read the blog "{in}courage" but I love it! And recently they asked how many of us would like to read Ann Voskamp's, "One thousand gifts" but couldn't buy it. Well, that was me! No $ left in the ol' book fund! But the book intrigues me. So I put my name in and got this email yesterday....

"We have received your request for a free copy of One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp and thanks to the generosity of the Bloom (in)courage community, Zondervan, and DaySpring, we are pleased to tell you that we are able to provide you a free copy!"

Seriously, folks, it doesn't get much better then that! So, anyone else reading it? thoughts?
That's all the randomness from me today. Enjoy your Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesdays Tips & Tricks

G'day all! Hopefully your Tuesday started out well... or will end well. Tonight the hubs and I have a DATE NIGHT so, yea, I'm pretty excited :) We have one gift certificate left over from Christmas which means one more FREE meal! {we really never make it past January with gifts like that} :)

Today's Tips & Tricks are taken from the "Corn Starch" booklet. Enjoy!

- Make your own windshield washer fluid: Combine 1 c. isopropyl rubbing alcohol, 2 T. ivory liquid hand soap, 1 gallon water and a few drops blue food coloring. Mix well.

- Tired of pesky bugs in your home? Create a mixture of equal parts Argo cornstarch and plaster of paris. Sprinkle this around cracks and crevices in your home to control cockroaches. They will eat it and turn into little bug statues. {cruel?}

- The trick to a light, fluffy omelet? Add a t. of cornstarch when mixing the eggs!

- Make your own cough syrup: Mix 4 T. lemon juice, 1 c. honey and 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil. Heat, then stir vigorously. Take 1 t. every 2 hours.

- Here's a recipe to give baby a soothing bath: Mix together 1/4 c. nonfat dry milk, 1/4 c. whole, dry buttermilk, and 1 T corn starch. Store in a glass jar. Pour 1 T. of mix into baby bathtub or 1/4 c. into full size tub. This makes a great and inexpensive gift for new moms!

and finally... today's WINNER idea!

- Create your own finger paints in custom colors. Add 1/4 corn starch to 2 c. cold water and boil until mix thickens. Let cool slightly, then pour mixture into a few small dishes or containers. Add a few drops food coloring to each container to make various colors. Also add a few drops of DAWN detergent to each bowl to help with cleanup later. Make sure paints are totally cooled down before using!
Sure beats buying those expensive paints!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A room for my soon-to-be eldest :)

Yesterday we had a family day. Hubs switched days and made Thursday our family play day! It was wonderful and today I'm kinda missin' him {sniff, sniff}. We made our way over to a very large mall in WDM and he graciously let me walk through Pottery Barn Kids. Most of you know my battle with that store - super cute things, super huge prices! But - their Spring 2011 Ideas book was out, so after roaming around and taking mental pictures... I snagged my copy and we left. :)

Lastnight I poured over the catalog dreaming of what we could do for our very special 2 year old / soon-to-be big sister! What I lack in funds I also lack in good, creative ideas. My friends have been wonderful at funneling ideas this way. :) So, anyway, as I looked through my book I started making notes on some of the pages... am I the only weirdo who does this?! My magazine looks like this now - on many pages...
And after all my notes I came upon a few realizations...

1) Love pink.
2) Love all things girly
3) REALLY want to make this a place that can transition with her at least until she's 5!
4) I can totally make some of these things!

And would you believe that while I was thinking these very thoughts a show came on tv called, "Design on a dime" where the host was learning how to make canvas art! Something I reallllly wanna do! {how hard can it be to scratch a few lines and circles on a blank canvas?!}

So it begins. I'm in idea gathering mode & starting to find pieces here and there to make this special room. So exciting! Afterall, this is a very special little girl I'm talking about!
{can u tell we are rearranging? infant clothes, queen mattress and toys all jumbled together}

Thursday, January 20, 2011

And the winner is...

Thanks to all of you who participated in the "Everything Christmas" review and giveaway! I loved hearing your Christmas memories from this year!

And the winner is...

Emily over at Pocket Full of Posies !!!

Em, your book will ship out this week :) And, good luck in the blogging world as you begin! Emily is just starting out with blogging - so, take a peek at her super adorable site! I know she'd appreciate it!

As for me and my little fam... we are heading out for dinner tonight. And speaking of all this Christmas stuff - we are still using good ol' giftcards. :) Thank you Ober's for sending this momma to the Cheesecake Factory!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Everything Christmas" - Book Review and GIVEAWAY

While most people have now packed away the Nativity Scene, Christmas tree, house decorations, cookie tins and cutters, and all the other Christmas-themed stuff... I'm now ready to do my Christmas book review. {hehehe} Who says you can't keep the Christmas spirit alive?!

"Christmas is a time of celebration and wonder, a time to embrace longstanding traditions and establish new ones. It's a time for meals filled with memories and heartwarming stories shared around the fireplace. It's a time for worship, reflection, and remembrance of God's greatest gift.

Everything Christmas brings all of the best ideas for the holiday season together in one volume. In this book, you'll find your favorite classic Christmas stories and a few new ones destined to join them. You'll discover the most delectable holiday recipes, enjoy the words to treasured hymns and carols, and be encouraged by inspirational Christmas poems and the joy of the Nativity.

Organized by the days of Advent, Everything Christmas includes everything you need to make the holiday bright. From decoration ideas to Christmas trivia and humor - it's all here! Opening Everything Christmas is like opening a box full of Christmas cheer."

My review:

Everything Christmas, written by David Bordon and Tom Winters.

I got this book in the mail about 3 weeks prior to Christmas and couldn't wait to dig in! And the back cover description is absolutely right... it has a little bit of everything Christmas. My favorite things about this book were the historical accounts of Christmas in days-gone-by, meanings behind Christmas carols and hymns, the international Christmas dinner menus and the tear jerking stories. As a young family and new-er mom, I'm always looking for ways to build traditions into our family and this book offered so many great ideas!

This book is full of quotes and sayings about Christmas. I found myself writing so many down in my journal. The same thing with recipes and decor ideas. On day December 16th, "Christmas Gift Ideas for the Clergy" was the chapter title. Hilarious! Maybe the "Early Exit Alarm" was my favorite idea -

"Tired of all those people leaving church before the end of the service? A simple laser projector at each door sends out a piercing alarm each time the beam is broken. This splendid device will encourage church members to remain dutifully seated until dismissed."

So, while the book did have so many tear-jerking stories and heartfelt memories, it was also lively with funny quips and chapters like the above mentioned.

This book would make a lovely gift for someone who is a Christmas-all-year-round person, or would look beautiful on a coffee table during your holiday season. It's a little book full of all kinds of Christmas fun! I especially liked that it ended with some post-Christmas prayers and ideas. An adorable, thoughtful, book that will be loved by whoever receives it!

If this sounds like something you'd like to own or gift to someone - you can check out more info here. Or, catch a sneak-peek at the book here on video.
*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Now, if you like just plain ol' FREE... here's how you can win your own copy:

- Leave a comment on this post. And since Christmas IS over and you have all this spare time... {chuckle}... write your best memory made this past Christmas! I'll do a random drawing tomorrow at some time - and contact the winner after that. Be sure to leave either a link to your blog so I can let you know if you won - or, some type of contact info!

And, I think it would be appropriate to say... HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Tips & Tricks

Whew! I spent today watching 4 children under the age of 3. It was awesome and I'm so glad the Lord allowed me the opportunity -but yes, I am v-e-r-y tired tonight. :) Dinner is baking and I have a minutes to post my tips & tricks of the day.

Today's tips are taken from, "Quick Cooking" magazine, 2004. Yep - going waaay back. But, as I was reading over my recipe for tonight, the page caught my attention and there are several tips I know we could all benefit from. So enjoy :)

- Making {or attempting} a carrot cake? No time to shred bags of carrots by hand? Buy a bag of baby carrots in the produce section and finely chop them in your food processor. The processed carrots don't make a difference in the taste of the cake or the texture of it.

- Use the free calendars you get in the mail {or from random stores} to create monthly menus. I do this!!! This way you can see what your family will eat a week at a time. Easier to make grocery lists and gather your necessary coupons! Also helps with daily prep to know what needs set out ahead of time.

- Make a lot of things that call for applesauce? Tired of wasting massive jars of applesauce? Buy it, instead, in the 4oz individual serving sizes. Several brands make them now - even generic. One serving is perfect for most recipes and best of all, no waste of what you don't use!

And for the tea drinkers of the world....

- Use your automatic coffee maker to quickly make tea. Put 6 teabags in the basket, fill machine with water and start it just like you'd do for a pot of coffee. Once it's done, transfer to a tea jar and sugar to your liking. Stores nicely in the fridge!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Homemaker Monday

I haven't gotten to do one of these in awhile... and forgot how enjoyable it is to reflect on my weeks at home and jot down some thoughts. :) Happy HOMEMAKER monday! {and, if you've never checked out the blog to the Stay at home mom... do today! cute blog with cute ideas!}

The weather in my neck of the woods: Hmmm... I think I heard 12 degrees, snow & sunshine!

Things that make me happy: Praying with my hubs and baby girl before he leaves for work. Trying to make that more of a tradition...

Book I'm reading: "A Woman's High Calling" by E. George - my personal refresher course!

What's on my TV today: Today is a no TV day for us... lots of housework on the agenda.

On the menu for dinner: Chili Mac and Cajun Potato Wedges...and some leftover raspberry cheesecake! :)

On my To Do List: Laundry, entire downstairs needs a clean over, change sheets and linens in bathroom, scrub tub and organize linen closet.

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon: Oh man, Southern Living published this Chicken Cobbler Casserole in their new cookbook... looks AH-mazing!

In the craft basket: Well, starting to pull together ideas for Miss Ave's BIG GIRL room! Still accepting ideas :)

Looking forward to this week: Church playgroup tomorrow, babysitting a baby cousin at my home, Youth Group!, and...curtain shopping this weekend!

Tips and Tricks: Rather then a bulky hamper taking up a corner in my toddlers already-too-small bedroom, I hung up hamper bag in her closet. It's out of sight, takes up minimal closet space and because it's hanging on the bar - still free's up the closet floor for more storage. :)

My favorite blog post this week: Molly Piper's post from awhile back about bible reading still sounds through my brain on a daily basis... check it out here.

Blog Hopping (a new discovered blog you would like to share with the readers): Ok, Just Molly's blog in general is motivating and encouraging! I'm always looking for blogs like this!

No words needed (favorite photo or picture, yours or others you want to share):
I have TWO this week...

Lesson learned the past few days: Ministry is hard and wonderful at the exact same time. People are people no matter where you go - and that's why it's so important to put on the things Christ calls us to - like, patience, humility, kindness, love and forgiveness. We are ALL in need of those things!

On my mind: My hubby. He's an amazing man, husband, daddy and pastor. I'm so proud of him...and don't tell him nearly enough. Maybe I'll go shoot a romantic text...

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
Going thru Titus 2 - in my E. George book - and so thankful for the reminder last week that we, as Christ Following women, are called to be, "not slanderers" and "sober minded".

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Seriously... Target!

Earlier this week I was chatting with some friends about Target. We always find deals there. Ever since I was told that Monday's are kids clothes mark down days... it's been on the back of my brain. But, of course, I haven't been able to make it in one.single.monday. And, thankfully, Ava is pretty well set for Winter and the beginning of Spring - so, no rush. But, yesterday, I had an hour free in the morning after dropping the hubs off for work - so, I made my way to the big red bullseye! I couldn't believe that even still on a FRIDAY I was finding clothes as inexpensive as $1.98 to $3.26! I found several pieces that Ava will need this Fall and entering the 3T size... and several dresses for May Baby in the right season! Score! I love these classy dress outfits for May Baby! Both were a whopping...You don't even know how many times I had passed them up because they were still in the $9 dollar range! And now, in the $3's!!!

And, of course - I couldn't pass up this "Little Sister" shirt for just $2! I haven't bought anything like this yet - and can't wait to show Brad! Now just to find a BIG SIS shirt for our special big girl!

And, dont' even get me started about the Dollar Zone - er, whatever they call it. Seriously, Target, I think you hit the nail on the head with that place!

Coloring books, mittens, kitchen gear, infant onesies, valentines decor... you name it they had it! Perhaps the biggest hit was the bag of plastic farm animals - which, Ava eyeballed immediately. She now plays with them NON-stop in her little farm, just as happy as a clam!
I'm so thankful to find little deals and treats like that. I love the hunt for a bargain and love even more when it pays off! We now have a few weeks of fun activies, clothes for both my girls & I even found some house decor that was 70%! {but that's another post}. It pays off to shop for bargains!

Friday, January 14, 2011

These are a few of my fav-o-rite things

What do a food processor, Kitchenaid Meat grinder attachment & a bottle of Paula Dean BBQ sauce have in common?
They were three Christmas gifts that I got this year from my very generous family! And because I'm the nerdy, kitchen-gadget lovin', homemaking type... why wouldn't I put up a post about them?!

Lastnight I got to use my new processor to make Raspberry marbled cheesecake squares :) And I have a few bags of stew meat in the freezer that I hope to grind up into ground beef this weekend! My options and ideas for the kitchen have now become almost endless!

And the BBQ? Well, ok, it was my husbands stocking stuffer...
but, who doesn't love some Paula Deen?

Happy Homemaking to me!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tips & Tricks on Tuesday

Good Tuesday Morning! We woke up this morning with LOTS of snow - so much so, that, my two year old and I had to walk to the grocery store for diapers... rather then drive. It was slightly treacherous on our unplowed roads. The store is only 2 blocks away - but, what a sight we must have been. Pregnant woman hauling a bag of grocerys with stumbling toddler behind her - half the time laying on the ground... for fun. {sigh}

On this snowy Tuesday - I thought I'd share a few of those tips & tricks from all those booklets I was given for Christmas. We could all use a little extra help, right? This week I'll be sharing from the, "Vegetable Oil" booklet.


-If your car doors tend to freeze shut in the winter, coat the gaskets around the doors with Crisco Pure Vegetable Oil. {after you figure out what a gasket is}

-To deter ants, pour a little extra virgin olive oil where you see them entering your home. Under the kitchen sink is a good place to start.

-Apply Mayo to the white rings or spots on your wood furniture; let sit for 1 hour, then wipe off with a soft cloth and polish.

-Clean your shower door with Pam cooking spray. Spray some on a soft cotton cloth and wipe away the crud.

-On a diet? Try this to curb your appetite: Mix 2 T. grapefruit juice with 1 T. Hain safflower oil; take before each meal. (hmmmm.... never heard of that one)

And for the most useful or fun tip today....

Wanna make clay for your kids? {not dough}
Make your own sculpting clay at home. Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar in a med. saucepan. Add water and oil. Cook over med. heat for 3-5 mins. or until the mix becomes the consistency of dough. Let cool, then add a few drops food coloring if desired. Store in an airtight container or zipper bag. Measurements below:

1 c. all purpose flour

1/2 c. salt

2 T. cream of tartar

1 c. water

1 T. pure veggie oil
Have fun with your veggie oil! :) Who would've known it was so helpful!?

Monday, January 10, 2011


Rather then just tell you how awesome this past weekend was...

How kids made life changing decisions,
Built godly friendships,
played creative games,
Joined in worship to a Great God,
explored God's creation in the freezing-ness,
ate delish camp food, etc.
I thought I'd share a few pics. Instead.

(can you see me lost in the crowd in this one?!) :)

God is good. Our Sub.Zero 2011 retreat was a success and we are eager to see what fruit comes of it in the next few weeks! I'm always amazed at how the Lord can use a simple weekend away to clear our minds and get us focused back on Him! Glory to God!

Our speaker, Cody Cline, quoted something on our last night that I had heard several times before. But, although it wasn't a brand new idea - it was just NOVEL at that point in my weekend. And I'm asking God to make this true in my life - that I would succeed in what MATTERS. Cody said, "His greatest fear isn't that we'll fail, but, that we'd succeed in something that DOES NOT MATTER." Think about that one today.

Friday, January 7, 2011

.::Ramblings to keep from crying::.

My emotions are on overdrive this morning. You see, we have our annual Sr high retreat this weekend and while I will LOVE being there serving along side my hubby... I'm leaving my baby girl behind. :( It's.always.hard. If you think of it - pray for this momma that I would be focused this weekend on serving the teens and leaders, and that our little girl will be safe, sound and happy. I know she will be! She loves her aunts and cousins! I just don't think I'll ever feel right about being away from her.... oh, what will I do when she leaves for college?! {gulp}

Anyways, to keep the tears at bay {for now} I thought I'd give you an update on some other, lighter topics.

1) Next week I'll be doing a book review on "Everything Christmas" by Waterbrook Press. They have changed their "Blogging for Books" program and this is the first review of mine, in it. I'm debating a giveaway... so, stay tuned in! It's a delightful little book of just that, EVERYTHING Christmas! Recipes, stories behind hymns, international Christmas facts, etc. A quick and fun read!

My favorite parts were def reading about what other countries do for their Christmas traditions and meals - for example:
In Italy they serve a large eel as one of their main courses. Um, Merry Christmas?!

2) Now that we know we are having another GIRL I'm on the hunt for several things:
-Big girl room items for Ava's new room
-Matching outfits for sisters
-Ideas on what exactly to do to make the most of our space
Fun things! I'm dying to do the matching outfits thing, especially! has adorable outfits and I can't keep myself from browsing their site. Look at these two!

Seriously! I may end up being that mom that makes my girls match everytime we go into public! I think it's so cute... :)
Ok, so just two things to ramble about this morning. I just can't wrap my brain around much else. But, I am SO excited to serve this weekend and be in the wilderness of camp - away from the noise. I'm eager to sip a hot cup of coffee while having quiet time looking out a window into nature. Have a wonderful weekend and be on the lookout for pics and the book review next week!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ministry 101

Every single time I'm about to face a group of teens - I have to remind myself of the verse, "Be completely HUMBLE and GENTLE...PATIENT bearing one another in LOVE. Make EVERY effort to keep unity of the Spirit in the bond of PEACE." {my own translation, there}

Every time.

I even wrote it at the top of my attendance chart that I sit and fill out every Sunday and Wednesday night. Something I'm learning as we progress through this life course of Ministry 101 is : People, no matter their age, but especially teens... will respond to humilty, gentleness, patience and love. It may take weeks or months - or years. But, part of my job is loving them to Jesus.

I say this because my natural bent or reaction is to be abrupt or "in yo face" about issues I see and how they need corrected, "because when I was your age...". Uh-huh. And, there is a place for biblical correction in some/many circumstances - but sometimes, I fear, we've lost that in youth ministries and an "anything goes" atmosphere is created. But, for me - I don't want to be that youth leader that is constantly nagging about what a teen is wearing or listening to or doing on the weekends. I want to be the loving leader that approaches in humility and true care for a teen. I want to pour out my life on the students and show them HOW to live by example - as Christ did for me.

So, God has been peeling back layers of my heart - breaking down my rough edges and quick tongue and showing me the power of LOVE and gentle words. Yes, I know for sure that times will come where confrontation and late night phone calls and tears will be appropriate. I know, from what the Word of God says, that it won't always be as easy as soft words and an understanding face...

But I pray and beg God to show me times when I need to shut my mouth, swallow my opinions, and just Love. These kids are too important! Their souls need saving! And God has chosen my husband and I to lead the pack, in a way...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

May Baby has a gender!

First, let me share some precious pictures and brag a little about our ultrsound tech, Alma. She was amazing and thorough and thoughtful. She took time to explain each position and angle and what we were looking at... something we didn't fully experience with Ava. As always, my heart melts watching those tiny little body parts squirm and move on the screen. Here's May baby today - at around 21ish weeks.I love the ones where baby appears to be looking at you dead on. Amazing. Our baby was playing with the umbilical cord today... and at one point got fiesty, even kicking at the tech.

And, the big, awaited news...


She was a squirmy, happy, 1 lb baby.

Yep, the tech says that according to measurements this little chunker is already at 1 lb at 21 weeks! And, I was also think closer to May 17th instead of the 21st. But I just take that all in stride... we will see. Only the Lord and May baby know that!

As is my tradition - after I found out the gender, I had to stop and pick up that first piece of gender-matching clothing... luckily for me, Kohl's is having 70% off this week. May Baby's first piece of purchased clothing...

As for me, I'm healthy as a clam - minus this nagging runny nose.
My dr couldn't understand how I haven't been gaining tons of weight even with holidays, which I took as a great compliment. My blood pressure is great and I feel fantastic!

Praising the Lord for another little girl on the way!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Seriously Good

For Christmas, one of my grandmothers bought me this little pack of helpful books. There is one for basically all of your pantry item - type things : salt, toothpaste, veggie oil, paper bags, lemon juice, foil, baking soda, cornstarch, vinegar, bleach. Each book contains several pages of little known helpful hints on how you can use them...aside from their obvious. For example, did you know:
-To remove urine from a baby mattress, blot dry with paper towels or a rag, then sprinkle area with Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. Let dry, then vacuum.
-Help a poison ivy rash clear up more quickly by soaking irritated skin in very warm salt water.
-Remove severe grass stains by soaking in undiluted vinegar for a half hour before washing.
-Squeaky doors driving you crazy? Spray the hinges with cooking spray.

So, yes, there are several pages of info like this in each booklet. Some sounds crazy - but, others might be worth a shot! I love little kitchen and household helps like that. :)

And now... some SERIOUSLY good recipes to share! I've been quite the Susie Homemaker this week and loving every minute I can do it! My goal every year is to continue to provide healthy and delish meals for my family. And, after going out to eat basically every day over Christmas... it's time for some good ol' homecooked!
Today I'd like to share a soup and salad dressing recipe - both are Ah-mazing. :) And, both are pretty inexpensive to make.

Blender Salad Dressing
1 c. veggie oil
3/4 c. cider vinegar
1 med. onion, cut into wedges
1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. ground mustard
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. pepper

In a blender, combine all ingredients; cover and process until smooth. Store in the fridge.
Makes about 2 3/4 cups!
*This may be similar to a Russian flavor - if you've ever had that, which, I haven't. It's very tangy and delish!

Chicken Noodle Soup
2 (14oz) cans Chicken broth
3 c. water
1 3/4 c. sliced carrots
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 celery ribs, sliced
12 oz. frozen egg noodles
3 c. chopped cooked chicken {or turkey}
10 oz frozen peas
2 envelopes chicken gravy mix
1/2 c. cold water

1) In large saucepan, bring the broth, water, carrots, onions and celery to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 4-6 minutes until veggies are crisp-tender.
2) Add noodles. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until noodles are tender.
3) Stir in chicken and peas. Combine gravy mixes and cold water until smooth; stir into the soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
*7 servings

Wow! We had this with company the other night and it's such a delicious, thick soup! The egg noodles and chicken gravy made it taste like something my mom would make! No runny Campbell's chicken soup here! Serve with some warm bread and you are all set! Best part is... lots of leftovers!!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Thoughts on my High Calling

This weekend I began a new personal bible study / book study with the book, "A Woman's High Calling" by Elizabeth George. An oldy, but a goody. I read it prior to getting married and MY how opinions and what-gets-underlined have changed! ;)

Chapter 1 is "A Woman's High Calling to Godliness" and as I turned the coffee-stained pages tell-tale of my college day reading... I was refreshed and renewed all over again by the truth of God's word and Mrs. George's wording. This book starts with a look at Titus 2 and the first topic was how the older women are to be reverent in behavior. Reverent?

"...our behavior stems from a state of mind, from what's going on (or not going on!) in our inner life, and God desires that the behavior of His women be reverent, behavior mirroring an internal sacred character."

"Our reverential, godly behavior should include the whole habit and composition or structure of mind and body, encompassing not only the movements of the body, but also the expression of the countenence, and what is said and what is left unsaid."

Why do I always kind of bristle up when this topic is brought up? I believe its truth and as a woman who claims to know Christ as Savior I do want to follow hard after that truth...
I think it's because it covers not only what people DO see, as the latter quote talks about - but, also what's going on in my heart. That "internal sacred character" is something, I fear, that I'll never conquer in this life. Good news is, looks like I'll always have something to work on!

I was especially convicted when it comes to being home with my family and interacting with them. So often they don't get the pleasant countenence or blessings of my words. For some reason, some days, it's seems so much easier to bless others outside my home - and save my smiles and good cheer for "church people". This is something I long to change and am asking God to truly make me that, "fruitful vine" at home - to encourage and build up my family. Not always easy in the day-to-day, even though my family IS easy to love. I make myself too central. I was encouraged with Elizabeth's last paragraph that seemed to know exactly my thoughts at that moment...

"It's a fact that the first step toward any noble goal is to desire it. And what a truly "godly" goal it is to follow God's will for your life and to set your affections on truly desiring to become this woman the bible exalts so highly and points us to - a woman whose whole soul is absorbed in worshipping Him."