Monday, December 31, 2012

Nutty Cheeseball

Celebrating the completion of another calendar year - and sharing a recipe for a yummy appetizer for a New Year's Eve party, or to save and use for one of the many celebrations of the year ahead!

I used my brand new KitchenAid Artisan Mixer to prepare this recipe for our Family Christmas snack/appetizer spread in the evening. My husband knew that I had been wishing for a KitchenAid for years, and he was so sweet to give one to me as my Christmas gift (and as an early-Christmas gift so that I could use it for all the Christmas baking and prep!)

Nutty Cheeseball

1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (I substituted chopped green onion)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Place all ingredients except pecans in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer. Turn to Speed 4 and beat about 1 minute, or until well blended.

On waxed paper, shape mixture into a ball. Roll ball in chopped pecans. Wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate until serving time. Serve with assorted crackers or raw vegetables.

(Credit: This recipe was in the Instruction Book for the KitchenAid Mixer.)

Linking up with:
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Better Mom Mondays
Inspire Me Monday

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Time to Celebrate

I love celebrations! All through the year - and especially at Christmastime!

Family Christmas!

Our Christmas came a few days early this year - on Saturday, December 22nd. This was the magical day when 18 family members gathered at our home for our celebration that lasted from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm at night! When family is home - together - there is always magic. So blessed and thankful for love that fills our home. We are not a perfect family, but by God's grace and mercy, love fills our home and our family. And we are blessed.

It was a day of celebrating this love, all a gift because of God's Gift (whose birthday we celebrate at Christmastime) - spending time together, sharing food and gifts together.

We chose a different menu for our Christmas Dinner, a change from our usual ham & mashed potatoes with all the sides. Instead, we celebrated with a Tempura Meal! (Recipe to be shared in a later post.) We've served this meal some years in the past, around Christmas or New Years - but this was the first time for this menu at our Family Christmas Dinner. What fun we had preparing it all together (as it is best served freshly cooked)! Having our five (grown) kids in the kitchen with me (and also sons-in-law and grandkids in and out of the kitchen!) was a highlight of the day for me - and I think, for them, as well.

The rest of the day was filled with gift-giving, grandkids playing, adults playing games in the afternoon and in the late hours of the day, and a yummy snack/appetizer spread in the evening. Thanking God for Love - all because of God's Gift of Jesus, and of Family - filling us up to the brim, and overflowing.

(We missed one daughter, son-in-law, and four grandkids, who were here for Thanksgiving this year - and thankful for the special Christmas they could have as family in TX. They had the very special treat of a beautiful snowfall on Christmas Day - unusual for TX!)

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!

More celebrating came a few days later, on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day. And a rather historical time for us - the first time since 1972 that my dear hubby and I spent Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day together, just the two of us. Even though we have loved having one or two family members join us for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (after we have already had our big Family Christmas Day on an earlier date), and I wasn't completely sure that I wanted that to end, our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day turned out to be a very special time for us as a couple, just the two of us.

Christmas Eve has an added special dimension for us as a couple, as it is our engagement anniversary. After joining friends at a Christmas Eve service at our church, we ate out together (a delicious meal at Cheddar's), and then drove around to view some Christmas lights in the area neighborhoods. So thankful, and so blessed to remember, and celebrate that very magical Christmas Eve, 42 years ago, when I heard the beautiful question, "Will you marry me?".

We had a leisurely, relaxing Christmas Day morning together, and then went to see "The Hobbit" together in the afternoon. We bid the day's end sitting by the warmth of our wood stove, Christmas goodies and white wine (purchased for us by a son) in hand. So thankful for God's Gift of Love, for Jesus, and for the love He has given my hubby and me - we are blessed, and we are thankful.

And Looking Forward to the Gift of Celebrating a New Year!

So thankful for this privilege He has allowed me - to share my heart through blogging as I listen to Him, and to seek to follow when He prompts me to share. It has been a joy to write - and also a great joy to have family and friends take time to visit me here. You are all such a blessing to me. Thanking Him for the privilege to write and to share - all because of God's Great Gift to us at Christmastime.

Looking ahead - I am desiring to listen and to follow Him as we enter into a New Year, and am asking Him for continued direction as I share here. I will be continuing with sharing devo thoughts, posts on prayer through the "Heart Connect" posts each week, favorite family recipes, digital scrapbook pages, and more. Also, I have sensed a prompting from God to begin a new weekly series on a topic very near and dear to my heart - on mothering. A new focus this coming year.

[Over the coming days I hope to be sharing more photos from our Family Christmas (in the form of digital scrapbook pages), and also a few of the many recipes that I prepared this season.]

Linking up at:
Faith Filled Friday
Friday Favorite Things
Saturday Show and Tell

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Greatest Gift

" ... She will give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel -
(which means "God is with us"). 
(Isaiah 7:14b)

"Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because He has visited and redeemed His people,
He has sent us a mighty Savior
from the royal line of His servant David,
just as He promised through His holy prophets long ago."
(Luke 1: 68-70)

"Because of God's tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven
is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of Peace."
(Luke 1: 78-79)

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's Almost Christmas

Just in time for Christmas - a beautiful snowfall! This is the view that greeted us yesterday morning as we looked out through our frosty patio door windows. The perfect finishing touch as we prepare for our Family Christmas Day, very soon - celebrating early with our family, as we often do, giving our grown children time for their own family celebrations, and also with their in-laws. It doesn't matter the day of the month - what matters is that we are together.

It has been a busy week (and month!) of preparations, and I am thankful for ...

Christmas cookies baked - 6 kinds
(using my early-Christmas gift from my hubby - photos coming later!)
Chocolate-covered Peanuts & Chocolate Billionaires
Cinnamon Rolls & Dinner Rolls

Gifts purchased for ten sweet grandkids
And for the rest of the family, too
My last shopping done right before the snowstorm
Gifts wrapped and under the tree

Appetizers and snacks made
Anticipation of our fun family snack spread
Dinner all planned - a unique and fun main dish (photos coming later)
Anticipation of 18 around our table

Thankful for the blessing of family, and that most will be home soon (we'll miss a daughter and her family, in TX), and praying that a son makes it home from CA, flying stand-by. And thankful for three daughters and their families, and another son - all living nearby. Home, and family - all a gift - how can we be so blessed?

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
It is good to proclaim Your
unfailing love in the morning,
Your faithfulness in the evening ... "
(Psalm 92:1-2)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Crunchy Apple Salad

Oh, this salad is delicious! I just tried this new recipe for the first time this past week, and it is definitely a keeper. I love the crunchy apples, peanuts, and bagel chips, and together with the homemade dressing, it is a very tasty salad. Perfect as an addition to a meal, or also delicious as a salad lunch on its own.

Crunchy Apple Salad

2 packages (5 ounces each) spring mix salad greens (or any combination of greens)
2 large apples, chopped
2 cups bagel chips, coarsely broken up (I used New York Style Bagel Crisps Everything)
1 1/2 cups honey-roasted peanuts
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled blue cheese

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 1/4 teaspoons dried minced onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a large salad bowl, combine the first five ingredients.
In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients.
Drizzle over salad; toss to coat.

Yield: about 8 servings

(Credit: this recipe is from a Taste of Home publication)

Linking up with:
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Inspire Me Monday
Better Mom Mondays

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Preparing of Hearts {Heart Connect}

"Come Thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee."
(Charles Wesley)

Anticipation of a special event draws the best from us. The setting of the best crystal and dinnerware, the lighting of candles, the setting out of all that portrays love and care. The giving of our time to create a satisfying meal that refreshes the soul, as well as the body. Preparing our hearts to listen to and love those we are welcoming to our table.

Do we do the same for the most special of guests? The One who longs to commune with us each day in the most intimate way. Do we serve our left-overs, or do we offer Him the best of our time, the finest of all that we have?

At this most special time of year, and all through the year, may we give Him our best - sharing our hearts at the start of each new day, a gift - bringing our sacrifice of thanks to Him for all that is in each day - and keeping in close connection throughout each day, listening, reading His Words, communicating our needs as He longs for us to do. Finding release from fears and worries. Finding rest, finding joy ...

King of the Universe, 
and the Babe of Christmas -
Teach us to offer to You our best,
 each day - 
and may we live our days,
full of anticipation of You.

(Photo above taken last week, as I prepared my best for a special evening dinner - our staff Christmas party, and welcoming a new staff member to our Cru team. Joy in the preparing, and much joy in the presence of friends.)

Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer - click here to read earlier posts in this series.

Linking up with:
Heart and Home
Thought Provoking Thursday
Faith Filled Friday
Fellowship Fridays

Monday, December 10, 2012

Small Town Christmas

It was a week full of Christmas ~ so thankful for the blessings of last week ...

** two Christmas parties - one at our home with our staff team, and one together with the larger area staff team - both were sweet, surrounded by dear friends.

**a Christmas Concert by the elementary school in our town - a grandson in the 4th grade, and a granddaughter in kindergarten (her first school concert!) - sweet sounds of children's voices.

**a shopping day on Friday - all the gifts for our grandkids, purchased!

**on Saturday - an amazing day of Christmas activities, a first for our little town - we loved it!

Thanking God for the first week of December - and for the blessings of this season. 

(Credits: Page Template: Scrap Girls - SSDLOT_Alb5_PG10; Paper & Embellishments: Shabby Shoppe - kcroninbarrow-rejoicing)

Linking up with:
Multitudes on Monday

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Giver - {Heart Connect}

The festivities, the gifts,
the scents and surprises of the season -
visible expressions of love ...
longed for, given and received.

So much longing during this wonderful time of year. And sometimes my actions reveal that it is all up to me to accomplish what I long for. That it all depends on me, and my efforts. Especially during this beautiful, wonderful Christmas season, where we are filled with so many desires and dreams. But I am pausing, and remembering. Whose power accomplishes all that we long for - for our families, for our times together this season, and yes, even for ourselves?

Does more activity, and more effort on my part bring what I desire most of all? Or could it be that sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the season, we often blindly stumble over the very Source of the things we desire most.

"Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you your heart's desires.
Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust Him, and He will help you."
(Psalm 37:4-5 NLT)

Lord, help me to not be too busy for what is most important. Help me to keep in step with You this busy, but wonderful season - pausing to listen to Your heart. Depending on You alone, trusting You ... the Giver of all that is good, and all that we long for. Remembering to connect my heart with Yours each day, throughout the day.

"Much prayer, much power;
little prayer, little power;
no prayer, no power ... "
(Revive Us Again)

Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer - click here to read earlier posts in this series.

Linking up with:
Tuesdays Unwrapped
Thought Provoking Thursday
Faith Filled Friday

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes are a treat to have, and I don't make them very often throughout the year. But I do make them most every holiday meal - Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Especially after I came across this amazing recipe years ago, which allows me to prepare the mashed potato dish a day or two in advance, and then bake it the day of our big meal together.

We are a family of 22 now - with six grown kids, four sons-in-law, and ten grandkids. Plus, we usually also are blessed to have my father, and also my husband's brother join us for the holidays - which means that we are often about 2 dozen around the table now! This dish is so wonderful, not only because it is delicious, but because I can prepare it ahead of time. Which is quite necessary to do when feeding two dozen family members for a festive meal.

Here is a photo of our recent Thanksgiving feast, which we enjoyed together with 23 family members!

Lots of delicious food here (some brought by our daughters!) - and I'll be sharing the recipe for the Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes in this post. Of course, you can also make it the day of your dinner, but it always works good for me to prepare it ahead of time.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

10# potatoes, peeled and cut in small pieces
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups milk, heated to lukewarm

Fill pot of potatoes part way with water; cover and cook until tender. Drain.

Mash potatoes, using part (about 1/4th or less) of the butter, and part of the milk to make a good consistency.

Combine remaining butter and milk in saucepan with cheese and salt; cook until smooth.

Stir into potatoes; then fold in eggs. (Add additional salt to taste, if desired.)

Pour into a greased large white casserole dish. (Also use an extra dish, if needed.)

(Bake right away, or refrigerate for 1-2 days and bake later.)

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees until puffy and golden brown, about 50 minutes or more.
(I always stir once or twice during the baking time - and then spoon into a serving bowl when done.)

Make-ahead (optional): Cover & refrigerate for 1-2 days. On day of baking, allow to stand at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before baking. And then bake as directed.

Yield: about 20 servings

(Credit: the original recipe came from Taste of Home, but I have adjusted it over the years and do not have access to the original one anymore.)

Linking up with:
Melt in Your Mouth Mondays
Tasty Tuesday
Trick or Treat Tuesday
I'm Lovin' It

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Best Way to Receive

"Thank Me throughout this day for My Presence and My Peace ... 
The best way to receive these glorious gifts is to thank Me for them. ... 
As you thank Me for My Presence and Peace, 
you appropriate My richest gifts."  
(Jesus Calling)

Some things are easy to be thankful for, and others are difficult. But always, we are to thank Him - bringing all our needs to Him. And the gifts that we receive as a result, are even more than we imagined. His Presence and His Peace - what so many in the world long for. There were both kinds of things this past week - things easy to thank for, and things difficult. And the Gifts of His Presence and His Peace were given, and received, as thanks was given. 

It was also a week of anticipation and joy as we transitioned to a new month, Christmas month! I put out much of our Christmas decor around the house the last day or two of November, and we assembled our Christmas tree on Dec. 1st! (Earlier than usual for us!) The lights had to wait a day or two, as we needed to purchase more to replace some burnt-out strings of light. And I am still slowly getting all the ornaments on the tree ... 

And in the midst of a week of transitioning from November to December, of Cru ministry, newsletter writing, of house cleaning, and meal preparing - we took time for playing with grandkids ...

And more to be thankful for on Sunday: worship with friends, stopping in at Blue Line to see a son briefly, an hour walking through Hot Shops Art Center's Holiday Open House, watching our high school's drama performance (with quite a few Cru students starring in it!), and attending a fundraiser spaghetti dinner for a family in need. A full week - much to be thankful for!

(Credits: Page Template: Digital Scrapper - ScrapItNow templates; Paper: mturnidge_makeawish)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Celebrating the Gift

"Put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love,
and with Him is full redemption."
(Psalm 130:7 NIV)

At the beginning of this most wonderful of seasons: full of love, good deeds, gift-buying, cookie baking, home decorating, gathering with family and friends, anticipation of the merriest day of the year - a reminder to wrap our hearts securely all through the month with the Greatest Gift.

Christmas is ...

"living in appreciation of what we have already been given - 
God's perfect gift, a Redeemer whose name is Jesus Christ."

Loving Lord, as we busily prepare for the magical day of Christmas, may we remember the Greatest Gift of all, the Gift that lasts all through the year. 

Linking up with:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Our Source for the Season

At the start of this most magical time of the year - we all have longings and desires. For rest, for joy, for peace that permeates our souls. For love expressed, and love shared. For belonging, and for being cherished, to be home.

And as wives and moms, we desire to create an atmosphere in our homes where all who live within, and all who enter, find rest, joy, and peace. We will go to whatever lengths needed to create a place where the magic of the season can fill all the places of the heart. Boxes of decorations will be unpacked and placed around our homes, hours and hours of time will be spent baking goodies, and days will be spent shopping for just the right gifts for those we love.

Oh, how I love this time of year - 
excitement and anticipation is in the air!

And I am reminded that all that I long for is a Gift, coming from one Source. From the One who gave us the desires and longings for Love, for Joy, and for Peace. And I want to be plugged into this Source. For without the power that flows from our Vine, we are powerless. Without Love and Joy and Peace that comes from Him, we will have no love, and no joy, and no peace this season.

"Yes, I am the Vine, you are the branches.
Those who remain in Me, and I in them,
will produce much fruit.
For apart from Me you can do nothing."
(John 15:5)

Linking up with:
Simple Things Sunday

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cheddar Ham Chowder

This creamy, comforting chowder is very similar to my Cheddar Chowder recipe, but the addition of corn adds a delicious, pleasing taste. I made it recently for the first time, and we loved it.

Cheddar Ham Chowder

2 cups water
2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can corn, drained
1 1/2 cups ham, cooked and cubed

In a large saucepan, bring the water, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, salt and pepper to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Remove from the heat; do not drain.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Add cheese and stir until melted. Stir into the undrained vegetables; return large saucepan to the heat. Add corn and ham; heat through, stirring occasionally.

Yield: 6-8 servings (2 quarts)

Click here to print it from the Taste of Home website.

Linking up with:
Delightfully Inspiring Thursday

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Beauty in the Moment

Beautiful, delicious food - love and memories are so often shared around food. And Thanksgiving's feast makes for overflowing hearts filled to the full with love.

And a mother's days are full of preparations of food. Such was the case for me leading up to our Family Thanksgiving together, with anticipation of two dozen family members home! The long list of things to do and prepare can sometimes feel overwhelming. And I sometimes get caught up in the tasks, and the checking off of things on my list. But I purposed to stay in the moment, treasuring the joys of home and of delicious, beautiful food. Capturing the beauty - so much beauty!

Thanking God for filling me with joy in the moment as I prepared ...

And thanking God for four daughters who brought delicious salads, sides, and rolls to add to our Thanksgiving feast!

One thing that I love doing when hosting a dinner for a large group (we had 23 family here for Thanksgiving!) is to work ahead with the meal preparation several days before the big day.

Preparations on Monday:
pie crusts for Pumpkin Pie
munchy snacks for our evening snack spread (not shown in photos)

Preparations on Tuesday:
Mashed Potato Dish (refrigerated, and then baked Thanksgiving Day)
Spicy Cran-Apple Sauce
Pumpkin Pies (baked, and then stored in refrigerator)

Preparations on Wednesday:
Sweet Potato Casserole (refrigerated, and then baked Thanksgiving Day)
Herb Dressing (prepared, and cooked in slow cooker Thanksgiving Day)
Citrus-Scented Brined Turkey (marinated for 17 hours in refrigerator, then cooked Thanks. Day)
Apple Pies (baked straight from the freezer, frozen a month earlier)

Working ahead is a life-saver for me, leaving time for other preparations and time for enjoying my family on Thanksgiving Day. Thanking God for the joy of family, and for good times together around beautiful, delicious food!

I will possibly be adding recipe posts for some of these dishes in the future. Click here for the Pumpkin Pie recipe, already on this blog.

(Digital scrapbooking credits: Page Template: JSM_dD-pageGrids01 and 02; Background Paper: KittyDesigns_YouAlone)

Linking up with:
Tasty Tuesday
One Project at a Time
Trick or Treat Tuesday
Heart and Home
I'm Lovin' It
Saturday Show and Tell

Monday, November 26, 2012

Heaven in Our Hands

"A thankful attitude opens windows of heaven. 
Spiritual blessings fall freely onto you through these openings into eternity ... " 
(Jesus Calling)

These words were the ones that I read early on Thanksgiving Day - and they are the words that keep coming to my mind at the close of a very wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving with our family home. Twenty-three family filled the rooms of our home last Thursday, and love was everywhere. It seems that our time together was a "touch of heaven". 

When children are grown, and they all return home, and love is there - my mother heart overflows, hardly able to contain it all. Life is not perfect, and trials are always with us - but where there is love, and hearts full of thankfulness, it is as if we are blessed with glimpses of heaven itself. What the love of a husband and wife, and love between family is meant to be - and how can we be so blessed to hold it in our hands? A taste of even more to come ... all a gift from a loving God.

Thanking God for His innumerable gifts to us - at this time, and all through the year ...

Sharing a few of the digital scrapbook pages from our time together - possibly sharing more in the coming week ...

(And continuing my listing of thanks, everyday, in my laptop journal and iPhone journal)

(Credits: Top page: Page Template: Digital Scrapper - 06-03_SINtemplate01; Paper: mturnidge_autumnalaura; Embellishment: kcroninbarrow-gratefulhearts.  Middle page: Page Template: Digital Scrapper - 01-11_SINtemplate01; Paper: mturnidge_autumnlaura; Embellishments: Sweet Shoppe - KCB Autumn Days. Bottom page: Page Template: Digital Scrapper's ScrapItNow templates; Paper: Scrap Girls - ASO_Alluring Autumn)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanks Be to God

"The flesh is always performance driven
 and everyday I need to become Cross-centered again
 and no one needs the Gospel only once
 because all the bad days need the 
Good News of His grace again and again." 

"The Gospel isn't a one time message for the unbeliever 
but the constant miracle for the imperfect."  
(Ann Voskamp)

"Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself 
through the death of Christ in His physical body. 
As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, 
and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault."  
(Colossians 1:22)

"And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, 
you must continue to follow Him. 
Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. 
Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, 
and you will overflow with thankfulness." 
 (Colossians 2:6-7)

Wishing you, and all those you love, 
a Happy Thanksgiving Day ~
filled with good food, good times together,
 and with hearts overflowing with thanks 
for the Greatest Gift of all!

(Credits: Frame: SNU_Picturesque_EmbMini-OrnateFrm; Background paper: KittyDesigns-YouAlone)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Week

Lord, may we offer our thankfulness to You 
as a sacrifice of love this Thanksgiving week -
and all through the year.

(Credits: 4x6 Template: Scrap Girls - SNU_SS_DLT_LayItOut-4; Paper and Embellishments: Digital Scrapper's Nov Premier Kit - KCB autumn days from Sweet Shoppe, SNU_Picturesque, mturnidge_autumnthgts)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Praying Ephesians 3:16-19 {Heart Connect}

"I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources 
He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.

Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. 
Your roots will grow down into God's love, and keep you strong.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, 
how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. 

May you experience the love of Christ,
 though it is too great to understand fully. 

Then you will be made complete with all the fullness 
of life and power that comes from God."

So powerful and life-giving to pray these words over others, and also paraphrasing the words to pray them over ourselves, as well. Pausing our busyness, reading these words slowly, from the heart ...

Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer - click here to read earlier posts in this series.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving Day is coming up very soon - I love this time of year, and also love pumpkin pie! There will be several of these pies at our Thanksgiving feast this year. And this is the pumpkin pie recipe that I have used for years and years - the aroma of pumpkin pie baking in the oven is just heavenly. 

Pumpkin Pie

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 can pumpkin
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 can evaporated milk
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

Mix filling ingredients in the order given. Pour into pie shell.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes; reduce to 350 degrees and bake 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.

Note: Click here for info about the pie crust recipe that I used - a make-ahead pie crust mix that can be stored in the freezer.

Linking up with:
Heart and Home

Monday, November 12, 2012

Everyday Blessings

A week ago I completed the counting of 1000 Gifts in 2012 - and I continue, daily, recording the blessings of each day in an app on my iPhone, complete with photos. Pictured above are just a portion of the big and little gifts from God this past week. (Seeing our youngest granddaughter crawl for the first time was a highlight - almost 8 months old! And also, finding Photoshop Elements 11 on sale, marked down to $49.99, from $79.99, was a highlight - so excited to have this upgrade. Thanks honey, for this belated birthday gift!) 

I'm no longer actually counting the daily gifts from God, but my list keeps growing, more and more each day. The listing - filling my heart with thanks - displacing worries - replacing with joy.

"Don't worry about anything;
instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need,
and thank Him for all He has done."
(Philippians 4:6)

Linking up with:
Sharing His Beauty

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sweet Grandkids in Costume

We're on our way to Thanksgiving Day, but I wanted to share these photos of our sweet grandkids from Halloween Day! We were only able to see two of our grandkids on Oct. 31st, but were blessed with seeing photos for the rest. Love these little firemen, our two sweet little Rapunzels, our tiny little ladybug with her big brother pirate, the scary characters from Star Wars and Ben Ten, and two slumber party girls!

(Credits for digital scrapbooking: Page Template: GISSketch48at; Background Paper: mturnidge_autumnalaura.)

Linking up with:
In the Studio

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Size of Our Prayers - {Heart Connect}

Our view of God determines the size of our prayers.

"Yet many of us pray as if our problems are bigger than God. 
So let me remind you of this high-octane truth that should fuel your faith: 
God is infinitely bigger than your biggest problem or biggest dream."
(Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker)

How small my prayers are at times. And how dismal my outlook. Forgetting who we are talking with, forgetting who is the powerful one. But we are not praying to one who is equal to us. 

"'My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,' says the Lord.
'And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.'"
(Isaiah 55:8)

Our biggest problem is not our big problems

"Our biggest problem is our small view of God."
 (The Circle Maker)

Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer - click here to read earlier posts in this series.

(Photo above taken on our 40th Anniversary Trip to Italy - an unexpected gift from God, revealed to us just one month before we flew to Italy. Beyond our highest expectations.)

Linking up with:

Work in Progress Wednesday
Thought Provoking Thursday
Faith Filled Friday

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Broccoli Raisin Salad

Broccoli Raisin Salad

1 bunch broccoli
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 pound bacon, fried and crumbled
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar

Prepare veggies, and bacon, and mix together with sunflower seeds and raisins.

Mix dressing ingredients; pour over broccoli mixture.

Serves 8-10

Note: I always like to work ahead as much as possible when preparing a meal for a larger group. Such was the case recently when twelve family members were home for a meal together. It worked great to prepare all the various ingredients for this salad the day before, and store them all in the refrigerator. Then shortly before the meal the next day, I just mixed them all together very easily. A freshly made salad ready in a few minutes!

Special note: this delicious recipe was shared with me by one of my daughters, who received it from a friend of hers.  (Thanks, Carrie!)

Linking up with:
Tasty Tuesday
Delightfully Inspiring Thursday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Inspire Me Monday

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fall Menu Planning

Have I already mentioned how much I love this time of year?! And something about the cooler weather, the warmth of the indoors, and the anticipation of holidays, calls me to focus on food preparation even more. This past weekend, I took a few hours to plan menus for the next three weeks, leading up to Thanksgiving Day, when we are anticipating that our whole family will be home! There will likely be 24 around our table!

I've been trying out something new for menu planning the past month or so. I rather accidentally stumbled across a blog post (click here) that explained about "Plan to Eat", a menu planning website. It offered a 30-day free trial, so I signed up to try it out.

Menu planning has always been fun for me, but also challenging to actually keep it up week-by-week. Especially in our "empty nest" years, when it is just the two of us here most days. And over the years I have gathered such a big collection of "family favorites" that the most time-consuming part of menu planning is actually choosing which recipe to use - there are so many choices. A few years ago, I set up a plan to use my recipes on a rotating basis. I still refer to this, but I don't always get to the final step in menu planning, of actually choosing which recipe (from this Three Month Menu Plan) to use on each particular day of the week.

A Great Menu Planning Tool

Plan to Eat may just be my answer. My 30-day trial period is nearing the end, and so this past weekend I signed up to use it for the next year. With a discount I received, it comes to only $2.60/month.

It works great - I import my recipes to "Plan to Eat" on my laptop with their easy import tool, directly from the source online (many of my recipes are from Taste of Home), and then also manually enter other recipes I have collected. (Some editing is necessary.) It even works with importing recipes from blog posts. (With some of them you need to do some additional copying and pasting, depending on the format of the recipe in the post.)

I then select the recipes I wish to use for my weekly menu plan, and print this plan out.  It also automatically creates a shopping list for these recipes. And the great part - I can view all of this on my iPhone - the daily/weekly/monthly menu plan, the actual recipes, and also the shopping list.

I've tried a number of different iPhone apps for menu planning in the past few months, and this plan surpasses them all by far for practicality and ease of use. Highly recommended by other bloggers that I trust, and created by a husband/wife team who are continually making additions and changes that will benefit the users.

Gratitude List - all the way to #1000!

And here, each Monday - continuing the Counting of 1000 Gifts in 2012. This week I jumped all the way from #907 ... to ... #1000! I also made the switch to use an app on my iPhone to record my gratitude list each day, and I love doing it this way. So handy to pick up my phone throughout the day, and quickly record something that warms my heart, a touch of joy during my day. Thanking God for His gifts, daily, helps me to keep my mind on Him, and draws me away from worry. And though my weekly gratitude list may not always be posted here each week, I continue with the listing, and the thanking.

Linking up with:
Menu Plan Monday
Multitudes on Monday
Inspire Me Monday
Better Mom Mondays
One Project at a Time
Heart and Home

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Weekend Links

Sharing a few fun things, and a few inspirational things I came across this past week online.

Apple Pie Cake

Click here to find this recipe. I came across this recipe in a blog this past week (which contained a link to the Martha Stewart website). It looks delicious, and a good way to use up some of the apples that we have from our tree - an abundant year of apples!

Love the Pie - Recipe Party

I enjoy visiting TidyMom's blog, and noticed she's hosting a Love the Pie Recipe Party Nov. 13-19 - it will be fun to see all the great pie recipes. And also, if you link up a pie recipe (from your blog, or in a comment on her post that week), you'll be entered in a drawing for a new kitchen range. Click here to read her post. I plan to enter my Pumpkin Pie recipe just for fun, even though I don't need a new kitchen range (I received my very first "brand-new" kitchen range three years ago when our kitchen received a much-needed make-over.)

Reach ~ how to use your social media influence 
for the glory of God

Click here to read about this new ebook with ideas on how to use social media for the glory of God. Co-authored by Laura, a blogger who I have connected with online and who I greatly respect. You'll also enjoy watching the little promo video for the ebook in her post.

One Thousand Gifts Small Group DVD Study

Click here to read a recent post on Ann Voskamp's "A Holy Experience" blog - and be sure to watch the 22-minute video that she has posted there. It's the first session of a new five-session DVD series where Ann shares the message of living a grateful life, walking closely with God with a thankful heart for all that He is and all of His gifts for us. I wrote about this in one of my posts from this past week - click here to read.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Beauty of Fall

Welcoming the brand new month of November ... and continuing to embrace the beauty of this season. Each of the seasons has a beauty of its own, and I cannot resist changing my blog header as we go through the year. I want to rest in each season, enjoying the gifts that God gives.

Digital scrapbooking credit: Page Teamplate: Scrap Girls - SM_dD-pageGrids02; Background paper: Digital Scrapper - allihavetodoisdream.

Linking up with:
In the Studio
I'm Lovin' It
Friday Flair
Friday Favorites
Simple Things Sunday

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Weathering the Storms

"In the place where dark waters nearly swallow you alive, 
there the Spirit of God hovers. 
There is the place God prepares to make a new creation in you."

How do we respond to the storms in our lives?

I feel like I have learned the hard way. I expected life to be storm free. A faulty presupposition, but it was there in the beginnings of our marriage and when our first children were born. And I was not prepared for storms. 

But by His grace, God has taken us through some tumultuous weather, and by His grace we continue to walk through storms. Not choosing to go through storms, but also not choosing to escape from going through storms. 

By His grace, we have weathered a number of storms: difficult, heart-breaking years of broken relationships during the high school years of one of our six children - another leaving her faith for a number of years - walking through the devastating diagnosis of leukemia for a daughter and the subsequent chemo and then bone marrow transplant - nearly losing another child to an appendicitis attack - having my husband go through a horrible accident that nearly took his life - the list goes on - and we are also in the midst of some other storms today. (And there are some wonderful, amazing answers to prayer in the midst of these storms, too.)

And I am learning, by His mercy, to thank Him for the storms, even in the midst of the storms. For storms are the surest way to draw us close to His heart. For during the wind and the rain we have nowhere else to go. And it is there, close to His heart, that we find rest, and peace. And it is there that we find the help that we need, and all that we long for. All by His grace, and all a gift.

Click here to watch a video that explains this so well. I am so appreciative of Ann Voskamp's life, and of the grace that God has given her to weather the storms in her life. This recent post on her blog contains a link to watch the first of her new DVD series, a video study of the teachings from her book One Thousand Gifts. (Click on the second video in the post - 22 minutes long - and so worth the time.) You may need to grab a kleenex box to have nearby as you listen as she shares. Especially if you have also weathered some storms, or are in the midst of some today.

"The problems of hard times 
are answered in the presence of Himself; 
God is with us
The wise stand in wind 
and pray not for the danger to pass  
but for the fear to flee." 
(Ann Voskamp)

Desiring to learn all that God has for us as we walk through the storms of this life, and thanking Him for His Presence with us, always. Thanking God for using Ann to so clearly communicate His gifts of grace, mercy, and love through the hard times of life, as well as the good. And praying for all those who have experienced the devastating storm earlier this week on the east coast.