Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Raspberry Almond Bars

I tried this recipe from a recent Taste of Home magazine last week, and loved it. It's a "keeper", one that I'll be making again, I'm sure. Click here for the online version of it on the Taste of Home website, under the name Swedish Raspberry Almond Bars. 


3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
3 eggs whites
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup sliced almonds, divided
Additional confectioners' sugar


In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour and mix well. Press onto the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Spread jam over crust. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high, until stiff peaks form. Fold in coconut and 1/2 cup almonds. Spread over jam. Sprinkle with remaining almonds. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with additional confectioners' sugar after baking, if desired.

This was perfect for a family meal we had over the weekend, and would also make a yummy Valentines treat.

Linking up at Tasty Tuesday, and Food Your Way, Comfy in the Kitchen

Monday, January 30, 2012

Our Week ~ Jan. 23-29

Happy Birthday, Sara!

Thankful for a week full of family, friends, and special everyday gifts from God ~

~ hosting Omaha area staff prayer here at our home
~ three hours with a granddaughter here one afternoon
~ phone calls from our grown kids
~ connections with blogger friends
~ a visit to see a grandson's and a granddaughter's new loft beds
~ my loving husband, always
~ my MacBook, purchased four years ago this month
~ some upgrades done on my husband's laptop
~ a Mixbook calendar arriving in the mail, a gift from a friend (with our Italy photos!)
~ our weekly staff meeting here at our home on Wednesday
~ joining friends from church for a Beth Moore study of James
~ time for shopping and errands afterwards
~ hearing of God at work at a Thank You event, by friends of ours in ministry to the homeless
~ finding a great bargain on a Kohl's sale rack
~ trying out of several new recipes
~ a Family Meal at our home last night - 15 of us around our table
~ Chicken and Chinese Sauce
~ sparkler candles on the dessert, wishing a sweet daughter "Happy Birthday"
~ a son sharing some of his photos from Europe
~ our new apple tv making it possible to view them on our tv screen
~ three little grandsons playing a 2 and 3 year-old version of hide-and-seek (so cute!)
~ warm good-bye hugs from these three, and also another grandson and granddaughter
~ watching episode 4 of Downton Abbey Series 2
~ a journal of memories of God's never-ending love and care through the week

"Therefore, let us offer through Jesus
a continual sacrifice of praise to God,
proclaiming our allegiance to His Name."
(Hebrews 13:15)

(Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012 - #69-92)

Linking up at A Holy Experience

Friday, January 27, 2012

Love this Room

A "corner room" in our home ~ a place of rest for me, and a place for some of my favorite things. I love this quiet room where I journal, read, listen, and record the things that God is teaching me. A place for card-making, working with photos, digital scrapbooking, recording of family memories.

I haven't always had a room like this to claim for my own, a place for a lot of my favorite things, all in one place. So this is a real treat for me. I took some time between Christmas and New Years to do some re-organizing of the shelves and the closet in this room, and now, the room is even more peaceful. It refreshes my heart and soul to spend time here.

On the opposite wall are two more tables/desks (still there from former homeschool days). The one on the right is a place to work on various office jobs for our Student Venture ministry, and the one on the left is a catchall for various projects. In a few months my sewing machine will be set up there, as I'll be working on a baby quilt for our 10th grandchild!

I am so thankful for this quiet place - I love spending time in this room. Spending quiet moments with God, journaling, digital scrapbooking, and, also, posting to this blog.

Linking up at I'm Lovin' It,  Friday Favorite Things, One Project at a Time

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Desires of our Hearts

A favorite verse of mine, never losing it's meaning. Growing deeper in meaning with each passing year. Sometimes the "desires of our heart" come through trials, for trials cause us to run to Him. And there we find what we desire most of all. And all the pain of the trial becomes insignificant to the closeness with God that we experience as a result.

And other times, the "desires of our heart" come as unexpected blessings. Things so amazing that we can hardly believe they are happening. Such as our recent trip to Italy for our 40th Anniversary (where the photo above was taken). We had planned a trip to a destination much closer to home, but five weeks before our trip, God changed our plans and opened up the way for us to fly to Italy!

I love to see this favorite verse of mine set on this photo from Cinque Terre, Italy - such an amazing, unforgettable gift from God.

Thank You, Lord, for giving us the desires of our hearts - unexpected joys that You surprise us with, and most of all, for intimacy that we have with You, our Creator - often the result of walking through hard times where we find that You are all we need.

Linking up at Word-filled Wednesday

Monday, January 23, 2012

Close Connection

"Keep company with Me,
and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
(Matthew 11:30)

Encouragement this morning, at the start of a week filled with many things, many tasks - 
"Connect with Me often today - all through the day. Make Me your focus - not your many tasks, not the people, not the circumstances of today. Just focus on walking with Me and keeping company with Me. And I will take care of everything else." (from my journal)

Thankful for reminders in recent weeks/months, when the busyness of life threatens us, and robs us of peace - to carve moments throughout the day for connection. Like a cup of cozy carmel coffee, or cappuccino - picking up the Words that give Life - connecting with God. Gaining perspective, gaining Peace.

"Intersperse these peaceful interludes abundantly throughout your day ... As you live in close contact with Me, the Light of My Presence filters through you to bless others. Your weakness and woundedness are the openings through which the Light of the knowledge of My Glory shines forth." (Jesus Calling)

Thanking Him for Peace and for the Light of His Presence ~ and continuing to count His gifts. Sharing these from this past week:

Words that give Life and Light ~
"The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need." (Psalm 23:1)
"If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone." (James 1: 5-6a)
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)
"My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." (II Cor. 12:9)

Every day joys ~
Packing away of Christmas decoration boxes - finally.
Starting to use iCal - why didn't I use it earlier?
Finding flights that work for us for the SV Director's Conference in Florida next month.
More progress in digital scrapbooking lessons.
Good progress on our next newsletter.
A new book arriving in the mail - Healthy Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
Our staff meeting on Wednesday.
The start-up of Beth Moore's James Study, joining friends from our church Thursday morning.
Time for shopping and errands later in the afternoon.
Two more pages done - digital scrapbooking.
Photos - a way to capture memories.
Learning a bit more about making photo collages in PSE.
Joining a Connection Group at our church - with just a 20 minute drive for my husband and me.

Blessings of family ~
Long phone call from a daughter in Texas.
A four year-old granddaughter who loves to color.
The beautifully colored (and cut out) princess she colored.

A visit with my 90 year-old father, taking him some goodies, and some things he asked us to pick up for him.
Three grandkids here overnight Friday-Saturday.
A "pizza picnic" in our family room - they loved it.
Such happy grandkids - an evening and morning of laughter and fun together. 

Happy grandkids at breakfast-time on Saturday morning ...

Hearing beautiful words from four year-old granddaughter - "I love you, grama". And these words, "I'll miss you, grama", when I told three year-old grandson that I needed to go into the bathroom for a bit and get ready for the day!

Thanking God for these blessings, and many more. And thanking Him for His grace and mercy, always loving us, even in our weaknesses.

"We now have this light shining in our hearts,
but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars
containing this great treasure.
This makes it clear that our great power
is from God, not from ourselves."
(II Cor. 4:7)

(The Joy Dare for 2012 - #43-68)

Counting gifts along with others at A Holy Experience; counting 1000 gifts in 2012.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

When We Need Answers

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"If you need wisdom,
ask our generous God,
and He will give it to you.
He will not rebuke you for asking.
But when you ask Him,
be sure that your faith is in God alone."
(James 1:5-6a)

So amazing that we have a place to go to, Someone who will hear our cries for help when we need direction, an answer. Sometimes He wants us to wait on Him over time, and sometimes, He gives the answer right when we ask, clearly. Thanking Him for some answers this week to several simple requests for help. 

Linking up at Sunday

Three Grandkids

With three of our four sets of grandkids (from our four daughters) living close by, we sometimes double-up on times when we have them over. Carrie asked if we could take care of Cruz on Friday while she and Tyler had a belated anniversary getaway. Then Amy also asked if we could take care of Levi & Ali while she and Joe had a date night (post-poned for several weeks because of sickness either at their house or at ours). So last night we had two sets of our grandkids here for an overnighter!

The three kiddos had a lot of fun. And we, as Grama and Grampa, had fun, too. A pizza picnic on a blanket by the wood stove in the family room Friday evening ... lots of games together (Trouble, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Twister) ... puzzles ... cartoons and a movie ... Lincoln Logs ... Legos ... little felt animals ... and lots of toys down in the playroom and on the main floor.

Two of our daughters and their husbands could have an evening and morning of quiet, without kids around - and we had a house full of laughter and grandkids. Now their homes are filled with the sounds of little ones, and ours is quiet. And we are blessed - a time of life when we get to enjoy both - the quiet days of "empty nest", and the house filled with laughter and kids.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Taking Time

I've been missing my digital scrapbooking. In recent weeks I've taken time for some more tutorials, but otherwise, have pretty much left it alone since entering the busy holiday season the beginning of December. And I need to get back to it - a hobby, something that I really enjoy doing. 

Continuing on with recording our unforgettable trip to Italy for our 40th Anniversary this last September - and also where we met up with our youngest son who was traveling through Europe for a few months! Venice was our first of four destinations in Italy; such an amazing place. Even looking at these photos, I can hardly believe that we actually were there. It's like a dream. The photos on this spread were taken at one of the most picturesque spots, and I wanted to make the photos quite large to try to capture the beauty.

Hoping to take time each week for digital scrapbooking - and maybe posting the pages here will be a fun incentive for me to take time for this hobby that gives me a lot of joy.

[Credits: Paper from Digital Scrapper (lgrier - All I Have to Do is Dream), and Embellishments from Scrap Girls (JRE Reflections of the Heart, and ABR Because of You)]

Linking up with In the Studio, Friday Favorite Things

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

All that I Need

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Sometimes when reading a very familiar set of verses, one all of a sudden finds themselves reading them as if it were the very first time to hear them. A time when God, by His Spirit within, brings them to new life. And it happened this morning as I read one of the most familiar passages of all.

These are the most amazing words, and they grabbed hold of my heart. And I want to keep thinking on them ~

"The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;
He leads me beside peaceful streams.

He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to His name.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, 
I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me.

Your rod and Your staff 
protect and comfort me. 

You prepare a feast for me 
in the presence of my enemies. 
You honor me by anointing my head with oil. 
My cup overflows with blessings. 

Surely Your goodness and unfailing love 
will pursue me all the days of my life
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever."

Wanting to let these words from Psalm 23 soak deep into my heart ... each line. So full of deep meaning. Words that meet our deepest needs. Words that so many in this world need ...

When I am in need, where do I run to first? Do I try to take things into my own hands, and become fretful when things do not work out? Or, do I take them first to the One who has "all that I need"?

A good habit to develop more and more with each new day of this New Year ~ when we have a need, take it first to the One who has all that we need. The One who pursues us with His goodness and love all the days of our lives. 

(Psalm 23 - NLT version)

Linking up at Brag on God Friday

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pantry/Freezer Challenge Update

I've been continuing on with a Pantry & Freezer Challenge this month, focusing mainly on using items from my freezer that need to be used up. My grocery purchases have been mostly for fresh dairy, fruit, and veggies - but I also have purchased some sale items.

Boneless, skinless chicken breast was on sale at No Frills last week for $1.49/pound! I should have purchased more than I did, as that is such a great price, but I already have a fair amount in the freezer from previous sales. I also made a quick trip to Sam's, and among other things, purchased their 5# bag of shredded cheddar cheese, which I divided up into 1 cup portions to put in the freezer. These are handy to pull out for various recipes, and will last awhile. So far this month I have spent $140.88 on groceries - less than normal, as I am trying to use up items on hand.

One way I like to stretch the budget is to cook a turkey occasionally, and divide up the cooked turkey into 2 cup portions to freeze. These bags of frozen cubed turkey come in so handy for a number of recipes that I have. This past week I cooked a turkey from the freezer, and it provided us with one meal on the day of cooking, plus another portion set aside in the refrigerator for turkey sandwiches later this week. And also - 8 bags of 2 cup portions of cooked turkey. Adding in the turkey carcass which will be great for making broth for Turkey Noodle Soup, we will enjoy 11 meals from one turkey purchased at a great sale price. Actually it will be more than 11 meals, as most of the recipes made from the 8 bags of cubed turkey will last for more than one meal.

It's been good for me to focus on using items from the freezer this month. Earlier in the month I made an assessment of what I have in our two freezers, plus the freezer in our side-by-side refrigerator. I found a number of things that needed to be tossed, and am focusing on using up the other items that need to be used soon. Here's a link to a post with some great charts to keep track of what we keep in our freezers - click here.

Linking up at Tasty Tuesday, and Good Cheap Eats

Monday, January 16, 2012

One Step at a Time

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"Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by Your truth and teach me,
for You are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in You."
(Psalm 25: 4-5)

As we make decisions, and as we step into a new week ~ we don't need to carry tomorrow's burdens today. Our focus is today - walking with Him, focusing on Him. One-step-at-a-time, holding His hand, trusting in Him. Trusting for the big things, and even more importantly, for the little things. For life is made up of single steps, one followed by another.

"As you anticipate what is ahead of you, you forget that I am with you - now and always. Rehearsing your troubles results in experiencing them many times, whereas you are meant to go through them only when they actually occur ... come to Me and relax in My Peace. I will strengthen you and prepare you for this day ... " (Jesus Calling)

"Come to Me. 
Get away with Me and you'll recover your life.
I'll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with Me and work with Me - 
watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with Me,
and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
(Matthew 11:28-30 - The Message)

Thanking Him for the anticipation of walking with Him through this coming week; and thanking Him for His gifts from this past week:

For His Words that bring life and direction ~
"Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."(Matt. 6:20-21)
"Through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in Him is declared right with God." (from Acts 13)
"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love ... indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
Being able to worship with friends who speak the same language of our hearts - and being able to hear such good teaching - from Luke 4 yesterday.

For the little joys of daily life ~
Purchase of apple tv (with Christmas money) - thanks to two sons who recommended we do so.
Discovery of Masterpiece Classics - and the fun of catching up with watching "Downton Abbey" series one (thanks to apple tv) in time to view series two on regular tv.
My "dream room" in our home ~ a place for my quiet moments with God, scrapbooking, projects - a place of creativity and refreshment.

Cooking of a turkey - focusing on using up items from the pantry and freezer this month - one turkey, enough for 10 meals (divided up for a variety of recipes in the coming weeks, and put back in freezer).
Successfully setting up a new blog for our ministry at the start of this new year (our previous website host is closing down in a few months).

A gray/black cardigan received as a Christmas gift, and how a scarf that I bought in Italy last fall goes perfectly with it.
Some warmer days this past week - warm enough for taking some walks outdoors.

For the gift of family ~
A sweet thank you note from a sister-in-law.
A son calling, sharing thoughts as he starts up another semester at college.
Phone call my husband had with another son - catching up.
Phone calls, texts, and emails from daughters.
Hearing a little two year-old grandson over the phone.
Special time of focused prayer together with my husband.
Reading of blogs some of our daughters write.

(The Joy Dare for 2012 - # 22-42)

Counting gifts along with others at A Holy Experience; counting 1000 gifts in 2012.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The One Constant Thing

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"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. 
Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, 
neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - 
not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. 
No power in the sky above or in the earth below - 
indeed, nothing in all creation 
will ever be able to separate us from the love of God
 that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
(Romans 8:38-39)

Loving Lord, we so often under-estimate Your Love - but it is the one real, constant, never-changing thing. Open my heart and mind to fully receive this Love, Grace, and Peace today, and every day.

"Let me bless you with My grace and peace. 
Open your heart and mind to receive all that I have for you."
(Jesus Calling)

Linking up at Sunday

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cranberry Bog Bars

An easy bar cookie, and very delicious! I made them last month, and a friend requested the recipe, so I'll share it here. It's a great recipe to add to your Thanksgiving or Christmas spread, and also would be great any time of year. I'm thinking that they would be fun to make around Valentine's Day, too, because of the colorful red color of the cranberry layer.

1 1/4 cups butter, softened, divided
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar, divided
3 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 can (16 ounces) whole-berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

In a large mixing bowl, cream 1 cup butter and 1 cup brown sugar; stir in 2 1/2 cups oats and flour. Press into a greased 13x9 inch baking pan. Spread with cranberry sauce.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt remaining butter; stir in the pecans and remaining brown sugar and oats. Sprinkle over cranberry sauce. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Yield: 3 dozen

(This recipe came from Taste of Home magazine - where many of my favorites come from.)

Linking up at Comfy in the Kitchen

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Storing Up Treasures

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"Store your treasures in heaven,
where moths and rust cannot destroy,
and thieves do not break in and steal.
Wherever your treasure is,
there the desires of your heart will also be."
(Matthew 6:20-21)

"Every time you affirm your trust in Me, you put a coin in My treasury. Thus you build up equity in preparation for days of trouble." (Jesus Calling)

How do I store up treasures in heaven?
By loving,
by caring about the things that God cares about,
by serving others,
by obeying His promptings,
by loving even our enemies,
~ and also ~
by trusting Him,
by spending time feeding on His Words,
by depending on Him instead of on my own sufficiency,
by giving Him my thanks (for the big things and also for the little every day things that are easy to take for granted),
by pouring our hearts out to Him, leaving our cares with Him (instead of worrying),
by giving Him praise for all He does and all He is.

"Practice trusting Me during quiet days, when nothing much seems to be happening. Then when storms come, your trust balance will be sufficient to see you through." (Jesus Calling)

Thinking this morning about treasures, and what it means to store up treasures in heaven. Thanking Him for new thoughts and insight. Desiring to store up treasures that last for all time. And needing Him more with each passing day ...

Linking up with On Your Heart Tuesdays

Monday, January 9, 2012

He Calls Us Friends

"I have called you friends ... "
(John 15:15)

"True friendship - identifying with someone in thought, heart, and spirit. The whole experience of life is designed to enable us to enter into this closest relationship with Jesus Christ." (My Utmost for His Highest)

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

"The bearing of fruit is always shown in Scripture to be the visible result of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ." (My Utmost for His Highest)

Thanking God for the indescribable privilege of being His "friends", for the joy of walking together with Him throughout each day ... and joining with others in taking the JOY DARE for 2012, watching for all the gifts that He gives ~

For the closest of friendships ~
For Jesus, making it possible for us to walk closely with God.
His promises - "pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over." (Psalm 12:6)
Closer than any other - "Once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely, and we never lack for understanding or compassion." (My Utmost for His Highest)
His Words - new and fresh every day.
The book, Jesus Calling, calling me deeper into this intimate friendship.
That this Friend is strong where we are weak.
For this strength experienced as my husband and I shared about a difficult time in our lives during our pastor's message yesterday - and all the praise to Him for being our strength in this hard time we shared about.

For the little daily joys He gives ~
The purchase of more memory for my laptop - going from 1GB to 4GB - amazing!
PhotoShop Elements working so much faster - perfect for digital scrapbooking.
Cameras - able to capture special moments, and the joys of life.
A digital picture frame (a gift) - holding memories of our Trip to Italy.
Eating out "at home" for our Date Night - with P.F. Chang's (one of their freezer meals purchased at the grocery store).

For the gift of family ~
The happy chatter of grandkids - a grandson and a granddaughter over one morning.
Phone calls, emails, texts from those we love.
A little grandson turning three, on the same day his parents celebrated their 7th anniversary!
The cutest tractor cake they made for him ...

Sharing a yummy meal together with family - 

The beauty of food - a gift from God for us to enjoy, and to share together.

Thank You, Lord, for all these gifts (and more) from this past week ~ and that we can continually pour out our hearts to You as we enter a new week. Walking closely with You ...

The JOY DARE for 2012 ~ #1-21

(Starting fresh with my counting of One Thousand Gifts - From November of 2010 to the end of 2011 I counted 856 gifts. And this year 2012 starting anew, on my way to 1000 for 2012! Do you want to join in? Read this blog post by Ann Voskamp to read more about it, and to download the January Joy Dare.)

Linking up at Multitudes on Mondays