Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Momma Knows Me Well

And the other day she brought these by which made my day!  Yes, the flavor of that candle is Creme Brulee, and does it ever fill my house with an inviting aroma!  And every.single.dessert in that cookbook looks so good it makes me want to bake all day!

Getting a delivery of your favorite things is fun!

I Have Found Myself A Hiding Place

I heard this song by New Life Worship on the radio on Sunday.  I think I may have heard it once or twice before, but this time I heard it from start to finish and felt like bawling my eyes out, sort of like I do now after listening to it a couple of times in a row.  Certain songs do that to me, particularly certain worship songs.

I love the lyrics. They melt my heart.

I have found myself a hiding place
I have found myself a secret space
In the shelter of Almighty's love
In the safety of the Savior's arms.

I will run to the hiding place
I will run to the hiding place
Draw me ever closer
to look upon Your face
I will run to the hiding place.

I have found myself a hiding place
I have found myself a secret space
In the refuge of the Father's care
In the cleansing blood of Jesus there.

They make me think of my green chair, where morning after morning, day after day I sit in the shelter of Almighty's love and the safety of the Savior's arms.  Where I open my Bible and sip my coffee and get to know and fall in love with Jesus more.  It is my hiding place of sorts in this very crazy world.  It is a spot where I go to hide my heart further in His.  Where he draws me ever closer to look upon His face.

I recently finished the study on Ruth that my friend gave me for my birthday.  It was pretty in depth, and what I realized was how the story of Naomi and Ruth and Boaz is not so much a romantic story, but a story of hesed which is devotion that is loyal, committed, merciful, enduring, faithful, and filled with covenant-keeping love.  This kind of hesed is a key theme in the Book of Ruth and also describes the character of God, who shows that kind of devotion to us.

I pulled out a Women of Faith study that I started last year but put on hold when I did the 90 day studies on Jesus and Paul.  It delves into the extravagance of God's love, and how that is seen in Scripture in and our lives personally. I am enjoying reflecting on this.

The other day my dad came by and gave me the devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  I have heard a lot about this on several blogs, and was excited to add this to my mornings as well.  It is filled with passages that share the words of Jesus and hopeful promises from Scripture.

I hope you have a place where you meet with Jesus and get in His Word.  I hope you have found His heart to be your hiding place.  Rest there.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Slow Saturday Mornings

Don't you love the Saturday mornings that come your way with no rushed agenda, but rather a leisurely pace and family time spent with messy hair and pajamas for the dress code?

They aren't all that way.  But oh, how I enjoy the ones that are!

This Saturday Jimmy was out the door early to get some work done at the office - he has had an extremely busy several weeks - and the kids and I were home with no plans.  It wasn't long before our kitchen became an art studio, the table covered in paint, glue, stickers, and more.

We each decorated a canvas as the morning sun came through the windows.

And Madi taught me to make flowers out of coffee filters.

Which we delivered so some sweet friends of ours who had lost a loved one to cancer.

On another July Saturday morning, we made a batch of that yummy monkey bread served with fresh fruit, and my parents were able to come over to enjoy breakfast around our table.

I think it's special to share breakfast with family and friends since in general it is probably the meal we share together the least. But whenever we do, it's such a warm start to the day!

I hope you have enjoyed a few slow Saturday mornings this summer!

Pecan Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Okay, cookie lovers out there, you know that shortbread is a unique little cross between a cookie and a biscotti.  Perfect with a cup of coffee or glass of cold milk, shortbread is crunchy and buttery and oh-so-good!

I am smitten with the Farm Chicks cookbooks, and found this recipe for shortbread in one of them.  I actually made these to give away, but of course it just wouldn't have been right to give them away without tasting them first to make sure they were okay, so I did what I had to do.  :)

Here they are, freshly cut and finishing cooling...

And wrapped and ready to deliver...

Farm Chicks Pecan Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Heat oven to 350.  Generously butter two 9 inch pie pans.  Combine 1 3/4 cups flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans in a small bowl.  Cream 3/4 cup softened butter and 1/2 cup sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed.  Beat in 2 tsp. of vanilla extract.  Gradually add flour mixture Stir in 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips.

Divide dough in half and press each portion into a prepared pan, patting smooth with your fingers.  Score the dough in each pan into 12 small wedges, cutting halfway through with a paring knife.  Bake until lightly browned - 18 to 20 minutes.  Transfer the pans to wire racks.  When cool, cut the shortbreads into wedges along the scored lines then remove from pans.

Royal Recipes!

Towards the end of Madi's school year they had a book fair at her school library.  I am all about book fairs and book orders and pretty much anything involving reading, so we always support these events and order what we can!

However, at the spring book fair they had the brilliant idea of having a Grandparent's Day.  I know it was total marketing because they are aware that grandparents will buy more books for their grandkids than their [broke] parents will, but it was a really fun idea.  My parents got to sign in at the office and get Madi out of class and escort her to the library to pick out some books.  Talk about an exciting morning for a kindergartner!

It was fun to see what she picked out!  One item was a Disney Royal Recipe Collection cookbook, and this choice did not surprise me because she has cooked and baked with me since she was very little.

I had been looking forward to summer break so we could have more time together in the kitchen, and last week we pulled out that royal cookbook and Princess Madi made four of the recipes from it (with a little help from the Queen who is allowed to touch hot ovens and griddles).  We had so much fun!

First we made a Royal Breakfast including Fairy Godmother Wands (baked French toast sticks) and Get Your Work Done Smoothies (which apparently Cinderella drinks for a quick breakfast when her stepmother gives her too many chores).

Then one evening we made a Royal Dinner that included No Need to Sneeze Sandwiches (grilled cheese with turkey and barbeque sauce) and our very favorite, True Love's Kiss Cups for dessert!

Let me give you the scoop on these because they were light and delicious!  First we mixed a large box of sugar free/fat free chocolate pudding with milk.  While it was chilling, we took a carton of lite cool whip and added a few drops of red food coloring (to make it "princess pink") and about 1/2 tsp. of mint extract which gave it a refreshing flavor.  In pretty dishes we layered the pudding, the princess pink cool whip, some fresh cut strawberries, and one more dollop of pudding and cool whip.  Let's just say the whole royal court enjoyed these on a hot summer night in the castle!

Both my kids love breakfast and are begging to make the Pumpkin Carriage Waffles next.  Madi  has her eye on many more recipes including Day Of The Royal Ball Egg Casserole and I think Flounder's Salt Free Floats look refreshing.  No need to go to the ball when we are having such a ball in the kitchen together!  :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Where I've Been Lately!

I've been thinking about my little blog a lot the past few weeks but just haven't been able to sit down to spend time with it because of everything going on lately.

I've been rolling down the river...

And swinging through trees like a crazy woman...

And doing mountains of post-camp laundry, spending time with students who need the love of Jesus and a safe heart to trust, enjoying summer days keeping my energetic kids occupied, and lots more!  But if all goes well I will do some catching up on the blog in the near future, so if you follow keep your eyes out for some new posts real soon!  I've missed the friendly little companion this blog is to me, and I've missed you!  Have a blessed evening!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mmm, Can You Smell That?

It's a Salty Caramel candle from Bath and Body Works!  My mom picked me up a teeny, tiny sample size when she and Madi stopped in the shop while Jimmy and I were off on our anniversary getaway.  Evidently Madi needed some cool fruity hand sanitizer (which she has been applying and sharing generously at any given opportunity), and they thought I might like to try this.

I've been burning it and enjoying it because it is a scent of summer - makes me think of passing by Fisher's on the boardwalk of Ocean City or Garrett's on the streets of Chicago - but it also has the kind of warmth that I am drawn to in fragrances.  When I hear of a candle sale at Bath And Body or get a good coupon in the mail, I'm going to have to pick up a larger one!  It could burn nicely from summer right into fall.

Friday, July 8, 2011

In Ten Years Of Marriage

The end of June marked our ten year wedding anniversary, so we celebrated in a cozy tea bistro on a rainy afternoon....

And on a white sand beach on a rainbow evening.

In ten years of marriage you experience the exhilarating, the frustrating, the ordinary, the exciting, the unexpected, the mundane.  You learn what makes each other tick, what makes each other laugh, what makes each other cry, what makes each other thrive.  You have opportunities to succeed where you disappoint yourself and fall short, then surprise yourself by overcoming circumstances that you were sure would take you out.  You feel the wind in your face on mountaintops, taste the sand of discouragement in valleys, and experience both thrills and terror on the curves along the journey.

If you are wise, you do none of this on your own, but depend daily on God for grace and wisdom for the journey, and choose to be loyal teammates through thick and thin, as well as lovers and friends.

In ten years of marriage we have made countless memories.  We have ridden bikes along the shores of Cape May, the ferris wheel at Navy Pier, the old wooden roller coaster on Coney Island, flown in a helicopter through the splendor of the Grand Canyon, laid on the white beaches of the Caribbean, stood on the top of pyramids in Mexico, kissed in front of the castle at the Magic Kingdom, watched fireworks on the front lawn of the Capitol in D.C., skied down the mountains of Pennsylvania, and more.

We have ridden snow tubes down hills at winter camp with students, white water rafted down the river at summer camp, spent countless hours at youth group, leading worship, making visits, making disciples, lending a hand, working together for the kingdom.

We spent one of our wedding anniversaries on a missions trip in Mexico City; one at summer camp; one at an 80's night at a teen week (I even gave Jimmy a mohawk for that one); and this year's was spent leading music at VBS.  (I know, I doesn't get more romantic than that. ;)

In ten years we have worked lots of hours, paid lots of bills, made tons of meals, done even more dishes, washed load after load of laundry, and day after day done the ordinary that makes a life together work.  We have learned that commitment and faithfulness are not always glamorous and exciting, but they are always rewarding.

We had two babies in 18 months and learned the true meaning of sleep deprivation but also the truest, deepest human love possible.  We have stepped on Lego's, cleaned up goldfish crumbs, changed thousands of diapers, weathered our way through weaning, potty training, disciplining, and all the other unknown territory that comes with raising little ones.  Most of all we have enjoyed our kids, trying our utmost despite our own shortcomings and imperfections to raise them to love and respect God and give them a secure, fun, joy-filled home life.  Parenting has been among the hardest things we have ever done and we have a long way to go.  But it is the best, most delightful gift we have ever been given, and we are trying to steward it well.

Our first ten years of marriage have been happy.  They have been fun. They have been daily.  They have been romantic.  They have been busy, and sometimes tiring.  They have been refining. They have been fulfilling, mostly in the giving. We have learned, laughed, loved.  We have faced life's ups and downs together, and grown closer to God and each other in the process.  We have deeply enjoyed marriage and each other these first ten years, choosing harmony and unity.  Choosing to give, not receive.  But in the giving, we always seem to receive.  We feel blessed, and motivated to further serve God who gives such rich blessings.

If I were to choose two passage of Scripture to put around our marriage, these are what I would choose...

James 1:17
 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Philippians 2:3-4
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

The night before we got married, we danced to an old song.  Lovers of classic standards, we laughed and swayed as Sinatra crooned these lyrics...

When somebody needs you
It's no good unless he needs you all the way
Through the good or lean years
And for all the in-between years come what may

Who knows where the road will lead us
Only a fool would say
But if you'll let me love you
It's for sure I'm gonna love you all the way, all the way.

Happy 10 Year Anniversary, Jimmy!  

I love you all the way.