Friday, October 31, 2014

Luke 14:12 & Dreams

Living in the south, hospitality is just part of growing least it was for me.  It seemed like almost every weekend we had people over for dinner or coffee and dessert, and there are so many treasured memories I have from these times.  I'm definitely not the most hospitable person but I do try and my goal is that anyone who comes into our home would feel at peace and know they are welcome; part of the family.

I have a dream, it's a big one, a VERY scary one.  Do you have these kind of dreams? The kind you dare not tell another soul because then it feels "real"?  Maybe you're a blogger and you've written a post about your dream but it sits in your queue, unpublished, because you're afraid.  What if people think your dream is silly or completely unrealistic and not possible?  That somehow, if you say it out loud or put it online it becomes more real and you're then responsible for fulfilling it? I've been too afraid to even write this post for fear.

I KNOW that I alone cannot accomplish my dream, it's a God sized dream.  It would take divine intervention for many reasons: resources, my lack of experience and spiritual gifts.  But that's what God does right? He does the impossible!  For a few months now I've had this tugging on my heart: how can I help people? What gifts has God provided me with that would enable me to bless those in need?  Then it hit me...feed them! This isn't a completely novel idea: my church has a ministry called serve the city and they take meals once a week to a few different neighborhoods, there is a man downtown that feeds the homeless right out of his truck. In fact, just a few weeks ago our pastor gave a sermon on the very topic of my dream and it was like a punch in the gut.

I've mentioned it before, I love to cook and bake.  I'm not a professional but I think I can put a decent meal together and I truly LOVE feeding people.  Nothing makes my heart more full than to have people around our kitchen table, bellies full, telling me they enjoyed my food.  I don't mean that in a "I love praise" kind of way.  Actually, I don't really know how to explain it...but I just get a lot of joy from feeding people.

I wish we lived in a world that did not consist of those who were hungry or in need.  Instead, everyone had food, shelter, family, etc.  Unfortunately, this is not reality.  Even in my small community I am sure there are people (we probably see them every day) who are going hungry and would love a nice warm meal and to be welcomed into someone's home.

My dream:

Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.                    Luke 14:12 NIV

Cook a meal (once a week) in my home and invite whomever is hungry or in need of a meal and fellowship.

Luke 14:12 is exactly what my dream is!!!  How would I start doing this? I have NO idea..that's where God would need to show up because my gift is cooking and showing hospitality, not in organizing people or projects or even funding this venture.  If more than a few people came, I would be in trouble.  However, I truly believe that God provides.  When you're doing His will, His way, all you must do is say, "Yes, Lord." He will take care of the rest...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chili & Chocolate Silk Pie

Stephen and I had some friends over for supper last night.  Since it's fall and I adore comfort food I made chili, cornbread and a chocolate silk pie.  Unfortunately, the weather played a trick on me and it was in the upper 70's ... ah well.  I thought I would share a few pictures and the recipes I used:

Mom's Chili:
1 lg. can Brook's Chili Beans (mild)
1 lg. can Tomato Juice
1 package McCormick's Chili Mix(mild)
1 1/2-2 lbs ground beef, browned

Put all ingredients in the crock pot for 5-6 hours on low, serve with crackers, cheese and spaghetti noddles if desired.

Perhaps the best part of this meal is that it makes plenty so you'll have left overs :)

Smitten Kitchen is the first food blog I ever read and it's still my favorite blog today.  Deb is the inspiration for a lot of my cooking and why I started a food blog a few years back.  I quit doing my food blog (another story for another day) but thought from time to time I would share some recipes here. Anyway, the chocolate silk pie I made is from Deb's cookbook and it's amazing! I think I've already made this pie 4 times and it's always a hit.  My pie crust didn't turn out as ascetically pleasing as normal but it didn't affect the taste so who cares, right?

I didn't make the pie crust that goes with the chocolate silk pie because I didn't have the ingredients so I instead used the "All butter, really flaky pie dough" recipe:

"All butter, really flaky pie dough"

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp salt
16 tbsp. butter, very cold
1/2 cup ice-cold water

By hand, in a large widish bowl, stir together your flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut the butter into a medium-sized dice and scatter the pieces over the flour.  Using your pastry blender or fingertips, work the butter into the flour mixture until the largest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas.

If the butter has warmed up a bit, place the bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes to quickly cool it down again.  Drizzle the water over the flour-butter mixture and use a flexible spatula to gently stir it together until a craggy, uneven mass forms.  Knead the dough and any loose bits together, working quickly so as to warm it as little as possible.  If your bowl is wide enough, you might be able to get your hands in and work the dough together there; otherwise, dump all the flour bits on the counter and do so there.

Wrap the dough up tightly in a large piece of plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge at least 1 hour for a halved dough and 2 hours for a full one before rolling it out. *This recipe makes 2 pie crusts, I usually just freeze my second one for later use*

When you're ready to make your pie, dust your counter generously with flour, place your piece of dough on it, sprinkle the top with additional flour, and begin to roll it out into a large round.  I like to keep the pie dough moving it all times, rolling it twice, life it, and rotating it a quarter turn, repeating until its' the desired size and shape.  Keep a bench scraper or long thin spatula handy and if the dough ever stick to the counter, shimmy the spatula underneath and lift the dough enough that you can dust the counter with more flour.  If the pie dough becomes soft, it will be harder to roll, more likely to sick and to break up those flake-inducing bits of butter-don't even try to fight it.  Just slide the dough onto the back of a baking sheet and into the freezer for a few minutes until it firms up again.

Place the pie dough into your pie pan, poke holes in the bottom of the dough to allow air flow so it doesn't "puff up" while baking.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, allow crust to cool completely before adding the chocolate filling!! This is VERY important!!

Chocolate Silk Pie

12 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I use a 60% cocoa bar), melted and cooled
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract


1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. sugar

In a large stand mixer, whip butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.  While mixer in running, drizzle in melted chocolate.  Add eggs one at a time, beating mixture at medium speed for 5 minutes after each addition, and scraping down the bowl.  Add vanilla, and blend well.  Spread chocolate filling in prepared crust, and smooth the top. Set pie in the fridge until fully chilled, at least 6 hours.

Just before serving, beat cream with sugar until it just holds soft peaks.  Spoon onto pie and serve!

You can see the silky goodness!

*Pie crust recipe and Chocolate Silk filling recipe are from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Saturday, October 4, 2014

How Far I Haven't Come

On my journey of purging and trying to live more intentionally I knew there was still much work to be done. So far, none of the purging had "hurt" and although the goal wasn't to deprive myself or inflect emotional pain on myself, I knew that it had been too easy.  About two weeks ago, I got a nice smack of reality and realized just how far I hadn't come....

An acquaintance of mine is going through a BIG life change and in doing so, she is basically starting over and in need of almost anything for herself and her two children.  When I first read her request I was mad at myself that just the week before I had loaded up my car, TWICE, and hauled all of my purge items to our church.  If only I had known a week before I could have given her soooo much! Then God whispered, "You still have plenty to give."  I went through my house in a panic, looking for any "extra" things I had to donate and all I could find were items I used, loved, "needed".  I quickly garbed some things before I could talk myself out of it and told her what I had to bring.

There were two specific items that gave me a hard time, and I am VERY ashamed to admit: washcloths and my dresser.  I know you're judging me, and you ridiculous...I didn't want to give up 4 washcloths and my dresser (that sits in our extra bedroom holding stuff).  My heart is still black and I am very selfish, but I'm working on it.

The washcloths were new, we received them for a wedding gift.  They were an expensive brand and white; which is why we never used them.  I was too fearful of ruining them or staining them so they lived, folded up nicely on the first shelf in our linen closest.  If I'm too afraid to use them, why keep them? I feel so awful but my first thought was to give away some of the good washcloths we had but used and keep the good ones for myself and start using them.  I quickly realized how terrible and nasty that was so I quickly put them in the stack of things to give away.

The dresser.  My dresser.  It wasn't particularly anything special, but it was the one and only piece of furniture I had EVER been able to pick out for myself, prior to getting married.  I always had a nice bed and dressers, but they were hand-me-downs.  In high school, my mom took me to a local furniture store and I found "my dresser". And I truly loved it! It currently lived in our extra bedroom, holding my yarn and crocheting projects and some seasonal decorating items.  Again, I quickly offered it up before I could think about it too much and realize what an unhealthy, nasty, attachment I had to a piece of wood that we didn't actually USE or VALUE anymore.

The point? I'm still a work in progress.  I don't know if I will ever truly have the right kind of relationship with my things but I am working toward it.  I want a giving heart and I obviously have LOTS of room for growth.  I can tell you this, two weeks later, other than the two above items mentioned, I don't even remember what else I gave her.  I also don't miss the washcloths that sat in our linen closet for five years and because I needed to empty out the dresser, I got rid of more baggage.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Goat Daze

My brother got his fiance goats for her birthday: Rosie and Victor.  They're the really cute small kind that don't get big (note my lack of goat species knowledge).  I took Patrick down to visit the goats today and he had so much fun feeding them and trying to pet them.

Rosie sneezed and Patrick thought it was hilarious.  He kept giggling and trying to imitate the goat sneezing, it was pretty precious.

Unfortunately, he doesn't understand what "be still and let them come to you" means or "don't be load, you'll scare them away".  Almost every time he tried to get close enough to pet them he would jump or scream and they would scamper away.

When it was time to leave, he must have told them, "Bye oat." (bye goat) at least twenty times.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Personality Change

I've always wanted to be one of those "cool" people that go with the flow and just live life in the moment.  Never make plans or get caught up in schedules.  Instead, just let each day unfold and see what blessings it brings.  Unfortunately, I was born a total control freak, who can rarely relax long enough to truly let loose and just let life happen.  I read several blogs and I crave what seems like the perfect life (I know they don't truly have the perfect life). It just seems like so many of the blogs I love are written by moms who are able to just "let life happen".
They aren't too worried about their kids being soaked from jumping in rain puddles, they do cool crafts like painting INDOORS and take awesome photos of their children with finger paint all over their bodies and in their hair.
So I'm making more of an effort to just relax, let life happen and let my toddler enjoy playing in the dirt.  Heck, if I totally lose my mind, maybe I'll join in too?!
I've started by letting Patrick make a mess at meal time.  And trust me, he's really embracing it :-)

Crocheting Projects

A friend of mine just adopted a sweet baby girl, so I made her a blanket.  Unfortunately I just snapped a few pictures with my phone in horrible lighting, but that's better than nothing.  Or is it?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

30 Day Minimalist Game

My dear friend, Heather (today is her 30th BIRTHDAY!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY GIRL) and I have been doing this minimalist game.  We tweaked the "rules" a bit to fit our lifestyles but it has been so much FUN and such a relief.

The basic gist of the "game" is to get rid of stuff...a lot of it, 465 items.  On day one you get rid of 1 item, day 2, 2 items... You get the idea. Well I knew once we got into the 10's 15's, etc. I wouldn't have time to find those items and actually get rid of them that same day.  I have a toddler that requires all of my attention until nap time and I also didn't want to be making trips to our church to donate items every day b/c that doesn't equate to minimal driving and saving money on gas, etc.

So, instead I just started going through my house purging AGAIN...round 3 people!!! I didn't count the items that I threw away (40 pair of socks, old tee shirts, etc.).  So far, over the course of about 5 days I am up to 452 items.  I loaded up my car this morning and took a full load to my church (we have an awesome ministry that is basically like a Goodwill store but our church operates it).  Here is a photo I took before leaving:
I come from a family of HOARDERS!!!! I have always known this and never wanted to be a hoarder and took the steps I felt were necessary to ensure I wasn't one.  Well, news flash: I'M A HOARDER!!! I just hoard nice/useful things and not junk like some people I'm related to.  See the picture below..
That's my spice collection.  I had just purged it about  a month or two ago and got rid of probably 10-12 spices that I had multiples of or were old.  Yesterday, I got rid of 10 more spices!!! Ya'll, I'm sick, help me!

What has this purge taught me? Well, I already knew I had too much stuff.  What I didn't realize is how unattached I truly am to my things.  I thought it would be really hard for me to get rid of 465 items, especially since I've taken 2 full carloads of stuff to be donated in the last month!  Guess what, it hasn't been hard AT ALL!! I realize I still have some more items to get rid of, but for the most part it's been super easy and the more I'm getting rid of, the more I want to get rid of.

I have decreased by clothing wardrobe by about 65-70%.  I got rid of over half my kitchen utensils...I seriously donated a whole kitchen's worth of serving ware, cooking pots, baking dishes, etc.  If someone was just getting started and needing EVERYTHING for a kitchen to cook a meal, I probably gave it away, times 2! And ya know what? I STILL HAVE EXCESS!!!!!!!!

I gave away 12 pillow cases!!! WTH (what the heck). And we still have 8, including the one's on our pillows.  The more I've been getting rid of, the more I realize how wrong it's been of me to keep all these things, not using them, when someone else may actually NEED or ENJOY them!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Recent Projects

I love to crochet in my spare time (nap time).  Right before I found out I was pregnant with Patrick my mom and I had started crocheting again.  Once I found out we were expecting, I was crocheting baby hats and blankets like it was my job!  They weren't the best quality or anything but it was a fun hobby and really got me into "nesting mode".

Since then, a lot of my friends have been having babies and I have enjoyed honing my skills and making more blankets and some hats.  I've been really bad about taking pictures of each mom tried to get me into doing this so I would have a record of all the ones I've made.  For whatever reason the time was never found and I ended up giving away most of the blankets, hats, and scarves without ever taking any photos.

I decided this might be a good space for me to record and keep track of my projects.  This week I finished a blanket for a guy I used to work with whose wife is expecting a little girl in a few months.

Large V Stitch

 I also started and finished a scarf for my good friend, Heather's daughter.

Bobble Stitch

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Home I Want

Photo Credit
I want a home that is filled with love and laughter.
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I want baked goods around for my family and guests.
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I want people who visit to feel at ease and able to relax and enjoy themselves. Ok, maybe not like the dude above...

I'm pretty nostalgic and as I get older, it just gets more intense.  Recently I've been thinking more about the environment I want for my family and I realize that it's really the simple and easy things that come to mind.  I want to have memories of baking and making a mess with my children, painting outside under our car port, building forts in our living room, reading stories in bed to one another.

I want my children to look back and smile at all the fun we had together.  I want to look back and think of how tired I was as a mom because of all the things we did together. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

{ON} Mission

photo credit*

My church just wrapped up a series called "The Satisfaction Trilogy", you can find the sermons here in case you want to check them out.  I just watched them online because we were gone for the first two (vacation) and last Sunday we worked in the nursery so we didn't attend service.

All 3 messages were great but the last one really rocked me.  Jon, our minister preached on our mission and that Jesus told each one of us what "our calling" was.  In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus tells his disciples to go out into the world and make more disciples and that he would always be with them.  It's that simple, go out and love on people and spread the Gospel.  Simple, yes. Easy? No.

One question that was asked during the sermon: Is there a welcome mat at the entrance of my home? This wasn't about a literal welcome mat but about hospitality.  Are others welcome to come into my home and be part of my family? At first I answered, "Yes, of course! I love having people over into my home, sharing meals, telling jokes, just hanging out and 'doing life'." But then it hit me, this is not the case with just anyone.

You see, I'm the type of person who loves to love...those close to me.  I love my family and friends and would do anything for them.  Any need I can meet, done.  Any want/desire that I can fulfill...sign me up! But when it comes to everyone else, those I don't know, who aren't in my close circle....that's another story.  Not because I don't care for them, but because I'm too worried about what they might think of me, what others will think of me.

Who can I love on that I don't know, how can I help the people of my community, what's the best way to minister to them?

*I have no ties to the church linked in the photo, I just liked the image.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Finding Joy Challenge

I decided to take the "Finding Joy Challenge".  Do you read the Finding Joy Blog?  I've read this blog for a little over a year now and absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!!  So when Rachel said she was going to do a finding joy challenge I blindly accepted.  I thought it would be something fun.  HA!!!

I HATE HATE HATE pictures of myself!!!!!! I cannot stress it enough.  There are maybe 5 pictures of me that I have ever liked.  I have an issue with keeping my eyes open, I normally look like a drug addict because my eyes are either on the way to shutting or have just opened from a blink.  And even if my eyes are open and I look normal I am just not photogenic.  So naturally, the first challenge would be to take a SELFIE!

As if pictures of me aren't bad enough, let's make it worse by having me take it of myself! UGH! I honestly thought about just bailing out and not doing the challenge.  No one knew I was doing it anyway so who would know? But I felt like I need to get out of my comfort zone and who really cares if I post a horrible selfie on instagram, right?

Since I couldn't take a "serious" selfie, I made a stupid steps people, baby steps :)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Living Intentionally

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Recently I've been struggling with an ungrateful heart and the feeling of discontentment.  Living in our society today seems to be all about having more and doing more and I've often felt that yearning for "more".  But lately I've felt a tug on my heart, God whispering to my soul, "Look around you, you have everything."  And although I know this to be true, I still compare my life to others and want what they have. 

In an effort to get back on track I've been doing some soul searching and house purging.  Do you purge? What I'm finding is that it's become an addiction.  The more things I'm giving away, the more I want to get rid of.  What's even better is when I find someone who has a need for something I'm giving away or perhaps it's just a want of theirs but they will use it and love it.  This has actually given me mixed feelings: on the one hand it makes me so happy to give something to someone who will enjoy it and I feel good about that.  On the other, I feel guilt for hanging onto the item for so long when it could have been used and enjoyed by another. 

As a SAHM I've found myself too many times on Pinterest or reading blogs and wishing I had the clothes those women have or wanting their home d├ęcor or the space of their homes.  By American standards I live in a small home: 3 bedrooms, 2baths, fairly large eat-in kitchen, living room, 1 car garage.  No dining room, no 4th bedroom or office space, no basement and no 2 car garage. A few months ago I read an article about American materialism and if memory serves me correctly in the 1950's the average American home had between 1,111-1,500 sq feet and today it's about 2,500.  If we lived in the 50's I would be average :)  Here's the deal: when we bought our home 5 years ago I LOVED it but the more I have seen what others have around me, the more I want.

I have been feeling cramped and wondering how we can ever have another child because then we won't have an extra bedroom and place for our computer desk.  We NEED an extra bedroom, right? Since we have had company husband's cousin stayed with us for two days a few years ago when his family came to visit.  We NEED a 2 car garage so I can park my car on one side and we can fill the other side with all our junk stuff.  We need that basement because our children need a place to play and mess.  We sometimes have bad storms so we NEED a place to be safe.  Right?!

In order to combat all these feelings I'm trying to get away from the "American Dream" and live MY dream! The life God has planned for me. We have more than enough space when we compare our living space to the world's standards.  We have MORE than enough junk stuff to fill our home.  I want to be content if we stay in our small home forever.  How fun would it be to have our children and their spouses here for the holidays and their children too, making new memories in the home they once grew up in? And once our children are grown and gone we won't need more than this house. 

I want my heart to feel content and to have a posture of thankfulness and gratitude.  I want to see all the blessings I currently have and live life, not live for stuff.  It's funny because by giving things away and having less, I feel like I have more! I want my life to reflect the quote at the top of this page.