Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Year in Review (2008 edition.)...


The fact that 2008 is coming to a close leaves me with mixed feelings. In many ways I feel like many things were accomplished and happened that were positive; but, in other ways I feel like there are many things that I did not accomplish that I had really hoped to do.

2008 started out in a semi-stressful yet hopeful situation. I have had a problem with blood-clotting in the past and an ongoing problem with ovarian cyst. My DH and I spent the first few days of 2008 at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville seeing specialists. We left Mayo not really finding out any new information about my conditions. However, I am glad that I didn't find out any bad news. So, right from the beginning God reminded me to count my many blessings.

This year, God is continuing to teach me patience. Ever since a couple of months after my miscarriage we have been trying to get pregnant. My doctor talked to my husband and I about starting Clomid last February. However, I had two rather large ovarian cyst one after another and my doctor decided that I couldn't begin the medicine. In August, my doctor decided to allow me to begin taking Clomid for 6 months since I hadn't had any cysts in several months. So far I have been taking the Clomid for four months. We are just praying that the medicine will work for the next two months and that my cysts will stay away. Hopefully, our prayer for a little one will be answered in 2009. I just need to rest in God's timing and the peace He gives my anxious heart.

In May, I completed my Bachelors degree in Public Relations and a minor in Political Science. It took me a year longer to complete due to my miscarriage. However, I did finally complete it and I have the paper to prove it. Praise the Lord I am finally finished!

This summer my DH spent most of his time studying for his comprehensive exams. However, he was very diligent about spending quality time with me on a regular basis. One thing we did over the summer was take ballroom dancing classes at the local community college. We had so much fun and we learned a lot. We learned the Foxtrot, West Coast Swing, the Cha-Cha, the Waltz (my personal favorite), and the Rumba. Hopefully we will get to take the more advanced class this spring.

This fall I also had the opportunity to take an introduction to photography class at the local community college. I learned a lot of information and as I put what I learned into practice I can see improvement in my photos.

This past September my DH completed and passed his doctoral comprehensive exams with distinction. (Please pardon my bragging on my DH, I am just too proud of him.) My DH also submitted a couple of job applications. One job that he applied for was at the university that he is currently at. The other job that he applied for was in Chicago. My DH was offered the job where he currently works and we accepted it in November. While living in Chicago could be fun, I am southern girl at heart and the closer to our families the better. So needless to say, I am very happy that we will stay put in Texas for at least a year and a half longer. This job will also hopefully help my DH get a job in the southeastern U.S. in the next few years. God has shown Himself more than capable to handle my DH and I's plans by opening up doors that we didn't even know were there. It is amazing how God does that!

The presidential election this November was a really big deal this year. I contributed my vote and the outcome is known. Now I hope that you will join me in prayer for the new president and keep in mind that God is sovereign over everything (including the setting up of kings and leaders). God has given me peace about resting in His control of the political systems of the world. A song from Sunday School comes to mind, "He's got the whole world in His hands, He's got the whole world in His hands..."

Within a week of arriving home from our trip to Florida for Thanksgiving, Jackson joined our crew of dogs. While we still aren't sure if he is staying or not, he did make the trip to Florida with us and seems to fit in just fine. We just keep asking ourselves "Do we really need to have FOUR dogs? FOUR DOGS???" I am sure that you will find out the answer to that question in the months ahead.

This past year I got to visit my family a whole lot more than I did the previous year. My sister came for a visit in March, my in-laws came for a visit in May, I went to the Deeper Still conference with the mom and sister in June, my parents came out for a visit in early August, I was a bridesmaid in a Florida friend's wedding in September, we traveled home to be with family for Thanksgiving, and a little over two weeks later traveled back to Florida for Christmas. See I told you it was often. I am so blessed that God allowed me such wonderful opportunities to spend time with my family this past year. Hopefully I won't be too spoiled for next year.

This year also afforded me with some time to read books I wanted to read. In the past, I always had some sort of reading to do for class. However, since college is now behind me, required reading is also a thing of the past. I broke a personal record for the amount of non-required books I read in a year. I look forward to reading many more books in the year to come.

Books from 2008:
Quiet Strength
What Jane Austin Taught Me About Love and Romance
Wuthering Heights

Redeeming Love (finally finished it after 2 years)

Passionate Housewives Desperate for God
Creative Home Organizer

Okay, so enough summary for the time being. I am curious what happened to you in 2008. I would love to know something God showed you this past year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

These Days after Christmas...

Hi everyone! I hope that your Christmas was wonderful. I had a delightful Christmas Eve and Christmas. My DH and I have made our journey to Florida (with all FOUR of our dogs) and are enjoying the time we are getting to spend with our families.

On Tuesday night, my DH, my family (my dad, my mom, my sister, and my gram), and I went to a Christmas concert. It was very nice to sit and listen to all of the music. The concert is held in an old church and the acoustics in the building are wonderful. We had such a great time.

On Wednesday, we had Christmas Eve at my parents' house. We had a Christmas dinner "Southern Style" which consisted of ham, collard greens, cornbread, and sweet potatoes. After dinner we exchanged gifts and then ate birthday cake in celebration of Jesus.

On Christmas morning, my DH and I drove over to his parents' house in order to be there for breakfast. We spent the day visiting with family and watching our nephews play with their new Wii.

Things have been very laid back around here. I went after Christmas shopping yesterday at Target and bought wrapping paper for next Christmas. We have just been hanging out with family, relaxing, and reading. I am currently reading A Marriage Without Regrets by Kay Arthur. I am only in the fifth chapter, but I am enjoying it immensely. I will have to let you know what I think about the book when I finish it.

So, what are you up to these days after the Christmas rush?

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Homemade Christmas...

The week of Christmas is here. How exciting! I just love this time of year.

The two children that I watch are very special to me and for Christmas I wanted to give them something special. For A. I made a skirt. She likes long skirts that "spin out like a ballerina when I spin." I found this really cute baby corduroy with flower paisleys and little glitter flowers on it. When I gave it to A., she really liked it and I was happy about that.
For J., I had a very hard time figuring out what to do for him. It is hard to come up with a gift for a 19 month old. He is fascinated by my DH and I's dogs and has been walking around for several months. I found in a book this little dog, "Pull Along Patch", made out of plywood. My DH cut him out for me and I painted him. J. really like him and before he left was pulling around his new little dog.
I am not sure that I will be around much before Christmas; but I hope that your days are filled with much joy and laughter.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Southwestern Crawfish Corn Chowder...

This evening I made some chowder for dinner. I got this recipe from my mom and grandmother. It is really delicious. I served it with French bread. I halfed the recipe and it fed my DH and I with a container and a half leftover. I am not sure how this chowder freezes, but I am going to give it a try with my leftovers to see. I hope you enjoy!

Southwestern Crawfish Corn Chowder

1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (7 oz.) can salsa verde*
1 small onion, chopped
3 green onions, chopped (including green parts)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 cups half-and-half
2 tomatoes, diced
2 (15 oz.) cans cream-style corn
2 (11 oz.) cans Mexican corn
2 (10.75 oz.) cans cream of potato soup
2 cups chicken broth
3 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 (16 oz.) packages crawfish tail meat
Garnish: chopped fresh chives

In a large stockpot, melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring constantly, to make a light roux.

Add salsa, onions, and garlic. Cook until onions are wilted, stirring constantly. Add half-and-half, tomatoes, corn, soup, and stock. Add thyme, salt, seasoning, pepper, and cayenne. Stir to blend. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Add crawfish and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped chives, if desired.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

*Salsa verde is a green salsa, typically made from tomatillos, green chilies, and cilantro. It is available in the Hispanic foods section of most groceries.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Meme...


~Christmas Faves~

Fresh tree or fake tree?
Fake because the lights are already in it.

Ornament?
I have one that is a little duck that is to commemorate my little baby that is in heaven now.


Christmas song?
O Come, O Come Emmanuel - I belt this song and O Holy Night out when I am alone at home around Christmastime.

Tradition?
We read Luke 2 on Christmas Eve.
We decorate the tree together with ornaments from years gone by.
We buy an ornament that represents that year for each person in the family.
Going to look at Christmas lights.

Favorite gift as a child?
My doll, Christy, who I still have packed away in a box in my laundry.

Christmas meal?
One with family.

Cookie?
Cranberry Rugelach

Place to be?
With my family.

Memory?
Picking a favorite is hard, one of my faves was when I was 7 or 8 and we went to Albania to spend Christmas with my Dad (he was overseas doing some mission work for 6 months).

Christmas movie?
White Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas, Serendipity and Narnia (which my DH and I watched last night while wrapping gifts)

***
Let me know if you are playing along.
I'm interested in your favorites, too.



Friday, December 12, 2008

Loaves, Loaves Everywhere...

Hello friends! It is the end of Friday already and the weekend is here. Do you have a bunch of stuff to do this weekend?

Well, I finished the bread loaves for my DH's co-workers and they have been delivered. I wound up staying up all night baking bread. I ran into a major problem because I only had three loaf pans and I needed them for two different recipes. I wound up going to the grocery at midnight and buying a couple of cheapo pans just to make the whole process bearable.

My DH helped me layout a timetable and kneading dough. All in all I made 24 loaves of bread. I apparently killed the yeast in 4 of my oatmeal loaves and they were better suited for self-defense projectiles than eating. Those 4 loaves found their way to the trash can in short order.

I made 8 loaves of Banana Nut Bread, 8 loaves of Vermont Oatmeal Honey-Maple Bread, and 8 loaves of French Bread. I had hoped to make fabric bread bags to give them in but time got away from me so ribbon and saran wrap had to do. All in all, I was pleased with the way the gifts turned out though.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Australia (The Movie)...

On Saturday night my DH took me on a date. We had dinner and then went to see Australia. I have wanted to see it since I saw the preview for it. I am a very big fan of period films because of the costumes and I am intrigued by the clothing in the early 20th century. The fact that the story involves WWII (which I am very interested in) made the movie a must-see for me.

I don't want to spoil the story for anyone wanting to see the movie, so I will try not to spill too much of the plot. I must admit that from the previews I saw, I expected the story to be little different than it was. I thought that it would show more about the impact WWII had on Australia and less about a particular child of aborigines descent. The part of the story about the cattle drive is very intriguing and really gets you cheering for them. The story is neat and entertaining, just different than I expected.

In regards to questionable material, I know that there was at least one use of a foul word and there is a rather short intimate scene. (I am not sure what all it contained because my DH and I didn't pay attention during that scene.) There are several sexual innuendos and crass talk. There is also the appearance of an ongoing intimate relationship between the two main characters who are not married. Australia is rated PG-13 for some violence, a scene of sensuality, and brief strong language.

All in all, I enjoyed watching it but probably won't watch it again, mainly because of the storyline and length of the movie.

If you have seen Australia I'd love to hear what you thought of it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It Smells Like Icing...

Hey everybody! I hope that you had a great weekend and that your Monday is off to a great start. My DH and I had a nice weekend, but I am sad that it is already over.

This week I made a few cakes for a small wedding reception and I was very happy with the way they turned out. I spent most of Saturday making icing and decorating the cakes. The lady that I made them for was very happy with the job that I did. As my DH and I were driving to her house, I just knew (with a cake caddy being held between my feet and a cake dome in my lap) that we were going to have a wreck and there would be no cakes. Thank the Lord my thoughts aren't always correct.

This is the vanilla cake with fresh raspberry filling.

This is the chocolate cake with fresh raspberry filling.

My DH and I spent the afternoon rearranging the office (dog's room) so that we could fit another crate into the room. My DH likes the way the room looks now and all of the dogs seem content with the new set up.

I finished reading the book Youniquely Woman and I cant wait to share with you some of the things I learned.

I hope that you have a great day!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Foster Dog and Such...

Hi everyone! I hope that your week has been going well. Mine has been very busy but productive.

I have managed to decorate everything for Christmas (except outside which I am doing this afternoon) and have caught up on laundry from our trip.

Yesterday my DH and I found a stray dog in our neighborhood. Since we already have three dogs, keeping him is out of the question for us. However, we couldn't convince ourselves to send him to a shelter that isn't "no-kill" since he isn't a puppy. So we are looking for a home for him and trying to find his owners. Until one of those things is accomplished, he is our foster dog. We have named him Jackson for the time being; but hopefully he will have a home of his very own soon. If you are wanting a dog and live anywhere in eastern Texas, you are more than welcome to have him, if you are interested email me.

You could say that my house is really going to the dogs being that my DH and I are outnumbered 2 to 1. Now I'm off to go vacuum.

Have a blessed day!

Monday, December 1, 2008

December Greetings...

December is here and with it the end of 2008. How can that be??? I am not sure but 2009 is very close at hand. So what all do you have going on this month?

I love Christmas time so very much. I have many fond memories of Christmas when I was young. One of my favorite is a birthday party for Jesus my mom did with my sister and I. It is so wonderful to celebrate the birth of my Savior this month. Without Him, I don't what my life would look like.

So what all is happening with me this month? Well, I'll tell you. Since I was gone from my house for more than two weeks, I have a great deal of cleaning and laundry to do. I managed to get my suitcase unpacked and get most of the other traveling stuff put away.

This week I hope to put away all of my fall decorations and decorate the house for Christmas. I am not doing a lot of decorating this year. Just the tree and the front porch.

My DH and I will be traveling to Florida for Christmas. It will be so fun to see our families again. I do believe that I will be spoiled after this.

I have a ton of stuff to do before we leave. I am making all of my DH's co-workers homemade bread for Christmas. I have counted 15 people so far, so I will be lost in my kitchen among rising loaves of bread at some point this month. I am sewing cloth bags to make them festive. I will have to share some pictures of the finished results.

I am also sewing a skirt for the little girl that I watch. I need to have it finished within the next week or so because I won't see them after that.

So that sums up my month pretty well. I tried to spare you the tedious details. I hope that you don't get too busy to enjoy the sights around you and some time of relaxation sitting next to the Christmas tree.

"For unto you is born this day
in the city of David a Savior,
which is Christ the Lord." ~Luke 2:11

November Reminiscence...

Hello everyone! I hope that all of you had a fabulous Thanksgiving.

November is gone and my how quickly it went.

The presidential election has been over with for about a month. So, I am just continuing to pray for Barack Obama and the country. I hope that you will join me in this effort.

My DH and I did get to take our day trip. We went to get our car serviced and got to eat at Cheesecake Factory. It was sooooo very yummy!

We had a great Thanksgiving in Florida. It was so wonderful to see everyone and get to share this time of year with them. I went to Florida about a week before we had originally planned and enjoyed the extra time I got to spend with my family. My DH drove to Florida the Saturday before Thanksgiving. We celebrated both my DH's and my Dad's birthday on Sunday and then my DH and I drove to his parents. My DH and I celebrated Thanksgiving twice (on Thursday with my in-laws and on Saturday with my family) and it was delightful. We drove back yesterday and traffic was AWFUL. But we arrive back at our humble abode safely so I will not complain anymore.

The verse that sums up November for me is Psalms 19:14. For the last few weeks I have felt a heaviness in my heart and I am just praying that God would use it to bring me closer to Him.

"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation
of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD,
my strength, and my Redeemer."

~Psalm 19:14

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Painting Days and an Award...

Hey everyone! I hope that all of you are doing well. My mom and I have just about finished with our painting. All that we have left to do now is to paint the trim around two doors and 5 doors to paint. I will have to take some pictures to share the progress. We put the living room back together this evening and it looks really good.

Julieann has given me a blogging award. Thanks Julieann! It is my first blogging award and I am very excited about it. In response I am supposed to give the award to 10 other blogs.

Blogging is something I thoroughly enjoy doing. I enjoy posting things about my life, but I also enjoy socializing with all of you through your blogs. Just in case you don't receive an award, please know that I still enjoy reading your blog and think it is "cool".

The rules for this blog award is:
1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you
3. Nominate 10 other blogs for this award
4. Add links to those blogs
5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs
6. Give a reason why you consider their blogs cool.


The ten blogs that I think are cool are...
Renaissance
Making a House a Home
There is No Place Like Home
Life on Sylvan Drive
This One Will Be Heard

The Sparrow's Nest

I will post the remaining award winners when I get back to my own computer and have their web page's links.

Have a blessed day!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Florida News...

Hello friends! It has been a very busy week and I have been absent from posting (which I greatly enjoy doing). I have actually already gone to Florida and am currently at my parents' house and internet access here is pretty sporadic.

My grandma (often referred to as Gram) fell a little over a week ago and hurt her back pretty badly. My mom has been taking care of my Gram and trying to get things ready for Thanksgiving all while working full-time and so I thought (with my DH's encouragement) that I should come to Florida early and help out. My Gram really can't move around much so I am going to straighten her house tomorrow for her.

I helped my mom paint the downstairs yesterday and this evening. When I get my camera (which my DH is bringing), I will post some pictures.

I would appreciate prayers for my unspoken request and my Gram's health. Thanks so much for all of you prayers and encouraging words. They mean a lot.

I want to continue on with the list of things for which I am grateful.

  • My DH's understanding and encouraging heart.
  • Having the knowledge that God is sovereign and powerful.
  • Our church family in Florida. They continue to pray for my DH and I even though we are away.
  • For the technology (at least some of it) which enable me to blog and talk to loved ones across the miles.
  • The cool weather in Florida and the beautiful days since I've been here.
  • Quality time with my Mom and sister this afternoon.
  • The cheaper gas prices for the holidays.
I hope that all is well with all of you. May your week be blessed!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Little Access...

Hello everyone! I just wanted to let all of you know I may or may not be posting often over the next few weeks because I will have very limited internet access.

I hope that all of you have a great week!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Savory Pumpkin Seeds...

Thanks to all of you to your prayers. I would greatly appreciate it if you could keep my request in your prayers in the weeks ahead.

Last night I made some toasted pumpkin seeds. I found the recipe in a magazine, ReadyMade. The magazine, in my opinion, isn't very good and most is filled with tacky ideas. I am a Southern Living magazine type of girl and ReadyMade is no where close. Anyway, to get off of that rant...

There were two recipes provided. One is sweet and one is savory. We really liked the savory ones. It was a bit spicy, due to the cayenne pepper, for kiddos but it probably won't be too spicy for most adults.

Toasted Sweet Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons canolo oil
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


Toasted Savory Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons canolo oil
3/4 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Heat two teaspoons of canola oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
2. Add pumpkin seeds, stirring to coat with the oil. When some of the seeds start to puff, add the spice mixture of choice and stir to coat all seeds.
3. Toast until seeds start to pop and turn golden brown, four to five minutes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Heavy Heart...

Today my heart has been heavy. I have spent most of the day in an ongoing conversation with God. I know that most of you are Christians and I ask that you would please pray for my unspoken prayer request.

"Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with
My righteous right hand."

~Isaiah 41:10

Happy Fall Giveaway Winner...

Thanks to all of you who entered. It is fun to make new blog-land friends. It is very nice to now be acquainted with all of you. I hope that all of you have a Happy Fall.

Ladies, we have a winner for the Happy Fall Giveaway... (low drum roll please)

Judi Estes!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy Fall Giveaway...

*** This post is remaining on the top of the blog until the giveaway is over with, please scroll down for newer content. Thanks!***

I have seen many different people host giveaways on their blog. I have always seemed to miss blog landmarks to have a giveaway for, like blogversaries and 100th posts. In spite of all of this, I going to host a giveaway anyway.


In celebration of fall, I am hosting a "Happy Fall Giveaway" this week. I picked up a few little fall treats for the home including: a little bag of artificial acorns, a oatmeal raisin cookie soy candle, sweet cinnamon pumpkin anti-bacterial hand soup, and a dozen fall beverage napkins.

If you would like to enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post or in the CBox. If you would like a second entry, tell others about the giveaway on your blog and then leave another comments on the giveaway post so I can enter your name a second time.

The deadline to enter the giveaway will be next Sunday night, November 9th, at midnight. I will announce the winner on Monday, November 10th.

Have a Happy Fall!

Low-Key Sunday...

Today I am feeling a bit under the weather. I woke up with what seems to be some sort of sinus thing and my body just doesn't feel good. My DH and I have spent the afternoon watching Ken Burns's The War. So far we have watched 3 of the 7 segments. Hopefully I am better by tomorrow because I have a ton of stuff to do.

I wanted to continue with my list of things for which I am thankful.

I am thankful for...

  • My inlaws and the good relationship that I have with them. I know that this isn't often the case for many people.
  • My friends where I live. S. and E. have both been great encouragements and friends to me and I appreciate their friendship.
  • Our church family and the place that we have there.
  • Our home and happiness and blessings which fill it.
  • A. and J. - They bring such joy and laughter to my life. Kids just crack me up sometimes.
  • My country and those who have gone before to bring the freedom I enjoy today.
  • Beautiful days that scream the glory of God.
I would love to here what you are thankful for.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Caramel Apple Goodies...

Hello to all of you. I hope that your day is starting off very well and that it continues the whole day through.

Yesterday I made caramel apples to bring up to my DH's work. I had made some last year and they a hit. So, this year I decided to bring some again. It is fun to see how people light up when you bring stuff like that to the office, professionals get kind of excited.
This year I made little pumpkin tags to hang on them. I had wanted to a stamp that said "Happy Fall" on it, but a pumpkin was all that I could find. I made the tags from little tent gift cards and cut them in half. I used an embossing powder to make them look a little nicer. I wrapped them in just plain saran wrap (for the plain caramel apples, I sprayed the saran wrap with cooking spray to keep the carmel from sticking to it) and tied them off with a ribbon.
This year I made four different types of apples: plain caramel, caramel pecan, caramel salted peanuts, and caramel chocolate chip (my personal favorite). I wound up making 20 medium apples (5 of each type) using 4 bags of caramel bits and I had enough leftover to make 2 more very large apples. The caramel bits melt a whole lot faster than the cubes and you don't have to unwrap them. My grocery had them in the baking section (with the chocolate chips and coconut), not on the candy aisle. I uses the mini-morsels chocolate chips and they work really well. A tip though is to let the apple cool for a minute before rolling it in the chocolate chips because if the caramel is too hot it will melt the chips. I learned that the hard way.
If you would like to give them a try, the recipe for melting the caramel is on the back of the bag. After you melt the caramel all there is to do is dip and roll (if desired). It is great to mix types of toppings like a turtle apple with pecans, chocolate chips, and caramel.
Caramel apples are one of my favorite fall treats. What are some of your favorite fall treats?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day...

Well the day is now upon, November 4. As you already know, it is election day. I must admit that for the last several months that my heart has been troubled. I have worried about the outcome and what is at stake. Personally, the deciding factor for who I voted for was the candidates' view on the sanctity of the unborn life. While other issues may have further proved that I made the right choice, the need to protect the defenseless unborn is what it boils down to for me.

I have had fear in my heart, worrying about the election results. However, in the Daniel Bible study I have been going through, God brought me to a verse that has given my heart peace. In Daniel 4 this phrase shows up three different times (v. 17, 25, 32).

"The Most High rules the kingdom of men
and gives it to whom He wills."


This phrase in correlation with everything else that I have been learning from Daniel has reinforced in my mind a truth that my mind often forgets, God is in control of everything. I hope you can find peace and comfort in this verse, the way that God has allowed my heart to be at peace.

The election results, which we may find out tonight, are according to God's will and the outcome will not surprise Him. May our hearts rest in that knowledge.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November Newness...


Happy November to all of you! November of 2008, can you believe it? I am certainly surprised that it is once again time for Thanksgiving. It seems like not too long ago my parents were here visiting last November.

I am very excited about this month. Many things will be going on keeping me on my toes. Not that I need to mention it, but it IS fall and it actually feels like it outside. So as you can tell, I am very happy.

Well, not to ignore the elephant in the room, but in just a few days our next president will be elected. Continue to pray for our nation, the voters, and our leaders.

This month, I am really praying for God to help me with my time management. It seems like most days I throw on my workout clothes to bring my DH to work (we share a car) and I have every intention of doing my workout and getting a shower in the morning (because the children that I watch come over in the afternoon). At the end of the day, I am still in my workout clothes and haven't had a shower. This leaves me taking my shower for the day right before I go to sleep and all day I looked like a "who-da-thought" (as my mother and I would say). Needless to say, this has also limited the amount of crafting I get done. I am praying that God would show me what needs to be changed and give me the energy to wake up early to get a jump start on the day.

My DH and I are taking a day trip this month. I am excited because that means that we will get to eat at either P.F. Chang's or Cheesecake Factory for lunch. I am not sure what all we will do, but getting away for a day will be fun.

I have almost finished my sister's placemats and will be starting on several little Christmas presents for the children I watch. I am hoping to get several different projects knocked out. I also had this really cute idea for an item for my Etsy store (that I am trying to get opened).

This month holds the birthdays of the two men of my life (that is excluding my Savior, the time we celebrate His birth is next month). My DH and my dad both have birthdays this month and their birthdays are only 3 days apart. I already have both of their birthday presents and cards so I am feeling on top of things.

This month also holds Thanksgiving which is such a wonderful time of family fellowship and reflection on the things we have to be grateful. This year is also very special because it is the first time that my DH and I will get to spend Thanksgiving with our families. We spent the Thanksgiving we were dating at our respective families' homes. Since we got married and moved to Texas, we haven't been home for Thanksgiving. So my DH and I and our families are very excited. My Aunt who lives in Germany is also getting to visit for Thanksgiving. So we are really going to have a great time.

Keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, each week in November I want to post a list of 7 things that I am thankful for. I would love for you to join me by listing things that you are thankful for in the comments.

I am thankful for...

  • my salvation and the comfort of knowing God is in control of my life.
  • the wonderful husband that God brought into my life, I couldn't have asked for any better.
  • my Mom, who is one of my closest friends and prayed for who I would marry from the time that I was a baby.
  • my Dad, who is a great man and has strived to make sure that my sister and I were important to him.
  • my sister, whose friendship I treasure and am so very proud of.
  • my Gram, who has made sure to make my sister and I feel special and loved through the years.

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name."
~ Psalms 100:4

Saturday, November 1, 2008

October Reflections...

Goodness gracious, October came quite quickly and then went even faster. I am seriously wondering how on earth it is less than a month before Thanksgiving. My how time is flying.

This month has been a month of answers and a month which has, in and of itself, presented new obstacles. The areas of my DH's work, health, and life in general.

My DH finished his Comps at the very end of September which left us wondering for the better part of the month what the outcome of them would be. On the 17th he got the results and passed his major section with distinction. I am so very happy and proud of him. My DH has also applied for 3 jobs (2 in Texas and 1 in Chicago). We are hoping for one of the two in Texas because we really don't want to have to move any further from our families than we already are. He has already done a "job talk" for the job at my DH's current employer and we would like to not have to move. So, the end of the month leaves us wondering what it is that God has in store for us.

This month my DH and I were supposed to go out of town for a long weekend getaway. In the end, we decided not to leave town due to the cost of driving, eating out, and lodging. We wound up just spending the weekend at home doing things that we are normally to busy to do. We played Frisbee golf, went antiquing, played games, and just relaxed.

My photography class is moving right along. I actually only have one more class meeting. I have learned a lot and my DH says that he can see it in my pictures. The biggest thing is practice makes perfect and I haven't really had a whole lot of time to do that.

I have exercised pretty consistently this last month (except for this past week). I can tell a difference in my posture. My clothes are still fitting the same and I haven't stepped on a scale. I am sticking to my original goal of exercising to be healthy and not getting discouraged about weight loss (or the lack there of).

I have decided that I am not going to have a pie swap like I had wanted to. I think that it would be very fun, but almost all of my friends are from different social circles and don't know each other. I became bogged down trying to figure out the correct guest list and the month just slipped away. Oh well, I will have to start planning it for next year. My mom showed me a magazine article about a soup swap. Maybe I will host one of those in January, we'll see.

In regards to apples and my household, this next week I will complete my apple projects for the year. I am planning on making caramel apples for my husband's co-workers. I did this last year and everybody was real appreciative. Right now there are 20 Granny Smith apples sitting on my kitchen counter just waiting to dipped.

God is teaching me a whole bunch on trust. My mind worries about this and that, but I think that I have really been able to just remind myself of who is in control. I am currently going through the Daniel Bible study by Beth Moore. God has just revealed himself to me through the stories from Daniel and it couldn't have come along at a better time in my life.

The verse that best represents this month for me would be:

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
and lean not to your own understanding."

~Proverb 3:5

Friday, October 31, 2008

Blanket Adieu...


It has been cold here for the last week (by cold in mean low 50's high 40's at night). I am usually cold-natured and my husband is the opposite.

This week I pulled out our comforter (which we haven't used since late March) and put away the light blanket that has covered our bed the last several months. It is so fun to wake up with a comforter around my ears, all snuggled and warm. This does however make it hard for me to get out of bed though. I do feel however that fall is officially upon us and that makes me very happy.

So what is the weather like for you?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies...

This afternoon while J. was supposed to be napping (which he never did), A. and I made some cookies. Cooking, especially baking, is one of A.'s favorite things to do. So, as she stood on my kitchen step-stool, she poured the ingredients in as I measured them. She took some home to eat after dinner and my DH was very happy to have some "goodies" as well. I thought that I would share the recipe. I hope you enjoy them!


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups plain oatmeal
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In large bowl, beat margarine and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Alteration: For a more hearty/healthy taste, substitute 1 cup of Original Craisins for the chocolate chips.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Friday, October 24, 2008

New Mayonnaise Preference...

This past spring my DH and I discovered a new product that we have just completely taken to. The product is Kraft's Mayonnaise with Olive Oil. It is healthier, that is if Mayo can be, then regular mayo and it is definitely worth giving it a try.

Have you tried it? Did you like it?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vermont Oatmeal Maple-Honey Bread...

Yesterday I made some of the most delicious sandwich bread. It has a hint of cinnamon which makes it just a tiny pit "fallish" and it is very simple to make. The loaves turn out beautiful and taste wonderful. I found the recipe in my King Arthur Flour Baking Companion, this is a baking must have. I did not have the maple ingredients so I used brown sugar and did not put in any maple flavor. I hope you like the result as much as my DH and I did.


Vermont Oatmeal Maple-Honey Bread

2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups (18-30 oz.) boiling water
1 cup (3 1/2) thick oat flakes (rolled oats)
1/2 cup (2 3/4 oz) maple sugar or brown sugar (4oz)
1/2 teaspoon maple flavor (optional)
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 2 oz.) butter
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cups (7 3/4 oz) whole wheat flour
2 cups (8-9 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups (8-9 oz) bread flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, oats, maple sugar, maple flavor, honey, butter, salt, and cinnamon. Let cool to lukewarm (110 degrees F).

Add the yeast and flours, stirring to form a rough dough. Knead (about 10 minutes by hand, 5 to 7 minutes by machine) until dough is smooth and satiny. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap., and let the dough rise for 1 hour; it should double in bulk.

Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a loaf. Place the loaves in two greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch bread pans. cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap (or a proof cover) and allow the loaves to rise until they've crowned about 1 inch over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the loaves for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove them from the oven when they're golden brown and the interior register 190 degrees F on a instant-read thermometer.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Two Years Ago Today...


My how two years can fly by. Two years of ups and two years of downs have come and gone. Yet, we (my DH and I) have peace about our loss. Two years ago today, we lost our precious little baby to a miscarriage.

I have reflected on the pain that immediately followed and the brokenness of my heart. Looking back, I see how God was there for me to cry out to when I didn't think that I could bear the pain. These two years He has been my Comforter and my Hope. He knows my tomorrows and is there with me as I go through them.

"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall
strengthen thine heart:
wait, I say in the Lord."
~Psalms 27:14

Monday, October 20, 2008

Finishing a Dress...

I am a part-time nanny/babysitter to two precious little children. A. is going to be 4 in January and her brother, J., is 17 months. They come over to my house several days a week and we play and do fun activities. Today, A. and I were playing in my sewing room while J. napped. Then out of the blue she asks, "Are you ever going to wear that dress with the flowers on it?" and points to the dress on my dress form. I answered her by saying, "I will whenever I finish sewing it." A. then says, "Oh, well its been on there a for while."

I guess that since it has been over a year, I should really try get the dress finished. I need to make some alterations in the waist, finish the buttons on the front, and hem it. I also need to finish my sister's placemats I was making her for her birthday (last march). Hopefully, I can finish them before her next birthday.

Anyway, I thought that I would share my embarrassment about my unfinished project. Nothing like a 3 year old to make you feel guilty for not getting it finished yet.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday's Thoughts...


Today it actually feels like fall. The wind is blowing and it is quite cool outside (60 degrees). I think that I will actually wear a sweater today. It is so very exciting. I have been waiting for fall weather to come and now some of it is finally here. So, what is the weather like for you today?

Today my DH and I are going to plan Frisbee golf. We have missed going recently because it has been way to hot to spend over an hour in the blazing sun. But now, we have the opportunity.

Today my DH finds out the results of his comprehensive exams that he took last month. I am sure that he did fine, but now he will have the peace of mind that they are behind him.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fabric Galore...

Hi there to all of you! When did it get to be Wednesday? I went to sleep last night thinking that it was Monday. The week is just flying by.

Some of you may know that I have a very strong attraction to several things (material things): black shoes, flip-flops, shoes in general (uh oh, I am starting to see a pattern), pajama pants, and fabric. All of the items mentioned above are present, in a certain degree of abundance, at my house. I say all of this to say that last weekend the quilting store in my area had a large fabric sale.

They had various fabrics for $4.00 a yard. I found a whole bunch of Amy Butler fabric that I liked for $4. $4!!! Can you believe it? I mean it is normally $9.25 a yard.

I went into the store planning on just buying maybe 5 yards. But, there were so many prints that I liked that my 5 yards quickly turned into 20 yards. I can't wait to start on some projects with it. I am determined to complete at least one project before Thanksgiving.

I bought a group of pink and orange coordinates...



Some brown/pink coordinates (the top two)...



And some blue/green coordinates.


They match in real life, honest.

So, do you have a collection of fabrics or some other type of crafting supply?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What Jane Austen Taught Me Review...


Today I finished the book What Jane Austen Taught Me About Love and Romance written by Debra White Smith. I really enjoyed reading this book. The book is written based on various Jane Austen novels and First Corinthians 13:4-8.

The book is an easy read. The chapters in it are fairly short and perfect bathroom/waiting in the car reading. Debra White Smith basically took a part of the verse and paired it with a Jane Austen novel character. For instance, the phrase "Love is patient..." is paired with "Emma Woodhouse and Sir Patience Extraordinaire". The book actually made me want to read one of the novels and I have recently started reading Sense and Sensibility.

This book encouraged me to be a better example of what true love (the First Corinthians type) looks like in relation to those around me, whether they be a neighbor or a family member. This book would be great for teenage girls as well.

If you would like to find out more about this book, click here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Week and the Weekend...

Well, hi to all of you! I hope that as the week draws to a close you feel like you accomplished many things this week.

I was sick for part of the week (Wednesday and Thursday) which really stinks because I had planned on getting more done that I really did. The part that I am really sad about is I had to miss my photography class. In the end though, I caught up on the housework that needed to be done today and tomorrow I plan on spending most of the day sewing.

I believe that I will let all of the apples of the world be, at least for this weekend, and do something else with my weekend. I really want to make caramel apples; I think I might try that in a couple of weeks.

So do you have plans for the weekend?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pumpkin Crinkle-Top Muffins...

This morning I made some muffins for my DH's Bible study group. They turned out really well. I took a basic pumpkin muffin recipe a made a few adjustments.

Pumpkin Crinkle-Top Muffins

Ingredients
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup white sugar, divided
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease muffin pan or use paper liners.


Beat 1 cup of sugar, oil, and eggs together until mixed well. Add pumpkin and water to the egg mixture. In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Beat just until moist.

Mix 1/4 of sugar and 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon together in a small bowl (or a reclosable container to save for later use) until blended.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon sugar ( a little more or less depending on your taste). Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes. Stick with toothpick to see if cooked thoroughly. Cool for 3 minutes before serving.

Yield: 12 regular size muffins

An Encouragement from God...

Last night while doing my Bible study, God brought me to I Peter 1:6-7. I am so amazed how God brings just what we need at the right moment. Maybe this will be as much of an encouragement to you as it is to me.

"In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary,
you have been grieved by various trials,
so that the tested genuineness of your faith
--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--
may be found to result in praise and glory and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

~I Peter 1:6-7

Monday, October 6, 2008

Apples This Way and That Way...

Hello to all of you. I hope that your weekend and your Monday went well. I hope that you had the opportunity to take in the fall weather around you (if that means pretty trees or just slightly cooler temperatures).

My DH and I had a busy, yet relaxed (if that is possible) weekend. We spent most of Saturday at a college football game. We had a good time cheering on our team on even though we did not win. It was fun getting to spend time with my DH.

Yesterday after church I got into apple mode. I peeled about 18 pounds of apples while my DH and I watched a movie and after the movie was over began making Applesauce and Spiced Apple Waffles. All in all I made 6 1/2 more quarts of Applesauce and almost 4 dozen waffles.

I have had a request or two for the Applesauce recipe that I use. I originally got this recipe on a blog last year and then tweaked it some. This recipe makes "not very sweet, but not tart" applesauce and I used all organic ingredients (which is just a matter of choice). The apples that I used are Honeycrisp apples and have a very smooth taste. I have doubled the recipe both times I have made it. If you would like more information on the "How to's" of canning, click here.

Applesauce

2 cups of unsweetened apple juice or cider
8 pounds of apples (I used Honeycrisp Apples)

In a large stew pot or dutch oven bring apple juice to a boil. Peel, core and slice the apples. Place apples in hot juice and let cook until soft, about 40 minutes.

Remove from heat and ladle into food processor or blender in batches processing until smooth, usually just a few seconds). Combine the batches afterward to ensure a consistent texture before laddling into jars. Laddle into prepared jars.

Process quart or pint jars with a water bath for 15 minutes.

Yield: 2-3 quarts

The following recipe is a wonderful waffle recipe I found online sometime ago and have tweaked just a little. The recipe is pretty involved. I tripled the recipe since the waffles freeze beautifully. I made a double batch last year and put them in the freezer. When I wanted waffles I would just take a few out and put them in the toaster (just like an Eggo). I stored them in gallon size Ziploc bags and they kept for almost a year. The recipe is definitely worth the trouble (especially if you make a big batch) because they taste the delicious.

Spiced Apple Waffles
3 eggs, separated
3/4 cup milk, warmed
3/4 cup buttermilk, warmed

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, grated
(I used 1/2 Granny Smith and 1/2 Gala)*

1 1/2 cups cake flour
(I used 1/2 all-purpose and 1/2 whole wheat cake flour)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar

1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

In a large bowl whisk together egg yolks, buttermilk, milk and butter. Stir in apple. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to yolk mixture and whisk until smooth. Stir in toasted pecans.


Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Add sugar 1 T. at a time; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold half of whites into batter and then the remaining whites.


Pour about 2/3 c. batter onto waffle iron. Cook waffles until golden brown, about five minutes. Keep warm in 200 degree oven while cooking the rest of the waffles (if you are going to serve them immediately).


Top with syrup, powdered sugar, or honey butter if desired.

Yield: About eight 6" Belgian waffles


*I used the largest holes on my grater because anything smaller just makes mush.



Thursday, October 2, 2008

October Welcomes...

Hello to you! Can you believe that it is already October? It seems like last October was not to long ago and now here is another one.

Well, this month will be a nice, but semi-busy month. I am currently taking a photography class and it is eating up a lot of my free time. The class goes for 8 weeks so I am almost half-way through already. That is a pretty sad thought, I am really enjoying it and learning so much.

This month my DH and I will be going on a short weekend trip as well. It is going to be a very rural type of trip with horseback riding, fishing, and hiking. It is a trip that I have designed to help my DH relax after his hard work for the last 6 months as he was diligently preparing for his comprehensive exams. I am looking forward to this time away from the busyness of everyday life.

The month of October can be nice sometimes to because it is the calm before the busyness of the holidays. I really want to host a Pie Swap this month. Monica over at The Homespun Heart gave me the idea and I think that it would be so very fun. I am thinking about hosting it on the last weekend of the month, hopefully.

I am getting to teach one of my dear friends to sew. I think it will be really fun to do and I like getting to share things that I do with others. The real question will be how good of a teacher I will be. I guess we will have to ask her when we have finished.

Apples I do believe are the centerpiece for my activities for this month. I am planning on making another batch of applesauce, some Spiced Apple Waffles (to put away in the freezer), and at least a few Caramel Apples. I just love this time of year.

I am also hoping to get my ETSY shop opened up this month as well. That is an ambition I have, whether or not it comes to pass is yet to be seen.

I have also set a goal of exercising everyday for the whole month (except on Sunday). I am not being ambitious about the amount or intensity. Just doing a one-mile walk each day is better than me really pushing myself once every other week at the gym, right?

Also, this month is a time of trust in God for me. I am having to daily remind myself to trust in Him about things in the past and the things in the future. I am having to rest in the perfect peace that He gives to my troubled heart.

This is my verse for the month:

"I wait for the Lord, my soul doeth wait, and in his word do I hope."
~Psalms 130:5

What all do you have going on this month?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A September Spent...


Well, the end of September is here and a new month will be coming in short order. I know that I have not done monthly summaries in quite sometime; but, I do think that it helps me to realize that I did accomplish some things and the month didn't zip by unproductively.

So, what all happened this month?

Well, I spent 9 days in Florida beginning on the 9th. One of my dear friends was getting married and my sister and I were both bridesmaids in her wedding. I spent almost all of my time in Florida up until the wedding doing wedding things for/with the Bride. After the wedding however, I had the opportunity to spend more time with my family. We played some games, went to some museums, and went walking around downtown while I was there. I got to shop with my Mom (which is always fun) and got to visit with my Gram. We also ate dinner at Gram's house on Sunday. My Mom and I also met half-way (between where my parents live and my DH's parents live) to have a nice lunch with my MIL. We also had a girls' night and my mom, sister, and I went out to dinner and then to see a movie. When I had to leave it was sad and I once again wished that my DH and I still lived in the same town as they do.

My DH has been taking his comprehensive exams for his PhD this month. The tests have kept him really busy preparing and pretty stressed. He took his last test yesterday morning and now all of the tests are over with. Praise the Lord! It is all over except for the wait of finding out the grades. I am so proud of my DH, not just for his smarts, but for the fact that he has realized that he has been spending more time studying than he usually does (therefore I have been spending more time alone) and he made it possible to set aside several evenings so I can have his undivided attention.

Since I got back from Florida, I have been spending a great deal of my time decorating for fall. As any of who have read any of my recent posts know, I have been having a blast decorating and trying not to go overboard on the pumpkins.

I have also been canning some over the last week. I canned 6 pints of Pear Honey and 4 1/2 quarts of Applesauce.

I also started a photography class this month. I am really enjoying it and I look forward to bettering my pictures. I have already learned a ton of stuff and it is only two weeks into class. Today my DH and I are going to do my next homework assignment, which is taking pictures of fountains.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pears, Apples, and a Big Pot...

Well I hope that all of you had a great weekend. My weekend went by very quickly, as most of them do. I turn around and it is Monday again. Today is such a sun shiny day and this morning it actually felt a bit chilly. It won't stick around long though in about an hour it will probably be burning hot out there. I can at least open all of my blinds and let the sunshine pour in though.

On Saturday I went to training to be a small group leader with the Truth Project. The Truth Project is a really neat study done by Focus on the Family. It is a 12 week home study that serves as a starting point for viewing life from a biblical perspective. It is a really valuable study and there are small groups all around the country going through it. If you would like to learn more about it or would like to get involved, head on over to the Truth Project website. Have any of you every heard of or gone through the Truth Project?

video
Here is a promotional video clip about the Truth Project.

Yesterday my DH and I went to church and then he had to study for his last comprehensive exam (which he is taking right now). I spent the day doing this and that around the house. I also made applesauce from Honeycrisp apples. I was very happy with the way it turned out.


I made applesauce from Honeycrisp apples last year and my DH ate it up so fast that I made more this year. I think that I might make another batch before the apple season is over with.


I also canned some pear honey on Thursday. Now I just need to make the jars look cute. They make great little hostess gifts when they look really cute.


Today, I have the children that I watch coming over for the afternoon. I have got to get my house back together and do my FlyLady cleaning for the week. What all are you doing today?