Tuesday, December 31, 2019

In the Kitchen: For the Love of Cooking

I've always enjoyed cooking to some degree, and especially have loved trying out new recipes. And I do love to prepare a special meal, and create a warm atmosphere for people to gather together around and connect deeply together. But for the most part, if I were given the choice of being in the kitchen for an afternoon or spending time focusing on some of my other interests, I would say that the other interests would take first place. 

At the start of this calendar year 2019, though, something changed a bit. Somehow, a love of cooking and baking has bubbled up in my heart, and I will often choose being in the kitchen above some of my other interests. I do have quite a few interests/hobbies that I absolutely love (writing, reading, working with photos, etc.). And now at the end of 2019, being in the kitchen preparing delicious and fun recipes also fits into one of my favorite things to do! 

Here are just a very few of the things that have happened In the Kitchen in recent weeks/months ...

It was fun to try out this new Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes recipe a few months ago ... so very good! They freeze well, too, and I put extras in the freezer to pull out one at a time for a quick breakfast. I especially like them smothered with butter and pure maple syrup, with also a dollop of vanilla yoghurt on top.

The fall season cannot go by without making Pumpkin Pie, and I always use the same recipe. Why look for another when you already love the one you have? Click here for the recipe here on my blog.

Another new recipe for me in the past few months is this Taco Soup! So very good! I like the combination of the kidney beans, corn, and black beans ... so very tasty. I love that it also freezes very well. I made a larger batch after trying it out, and froze some to give to a daughter when we visited her the beginning of December. (See photo below.)

It was a delight to find another great new recipe this past month ... this time, a very delicious Christmas bread! Not only delicious, but beautiful, as well. 

This recipe, as well as the Taco Soup recipe, are from Tastes Better from Scratch, a food blogger that has become one of my favorites in recent months. I am loving many of the recipes that I find on her site.

Cranberry Orange Bread is a joy to make, and is a treat to share with others. The colors and the scents of the food ingredients are just a delight.

It is fitting that my last post of the year 2019 is a food related post! This has been a year of falling deeper in love with cooking! And I look forward to sharing more food-related posts in the New Year 2020!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Immanuel: God with Us

Just three days
until Christmas Day, but actually,
it's 29 days until our Family Christmas,
in mid-January this time around!!

This month has been filled with
activities, and multiple opportunities
to love and care for others. There
have been five funerals to go to
(though we were only able to go
to three), and a dear precious friend
in the hospital suffering with ALS.

Through the good and the hard,
I'm so thankful for the greatest gift -
Immanuel: God with Us ... for His
presence and his many gifts to us
always, and during this month.

Christmas programs for grandkids,
so many precious friends and family.
A fun Christmas Party as a CityGroup.
The joy of worshipping together, each
week as a Citylight Midtown family.

Beauty and love that fills our senses,
the lights and the Christmas decor.
Time for some Christmas baking, some
Chocolate Peanut Clusters and these
loaves of Cranberry Orange Bread.
And more to come for our Family
Christmas in January.

Immanuel: God with Us ... today,
and every day. Our greatest gift!

Monday, December 9, 2019

In the Quiet

A King, our Savior;
He came, in the quiet.
To redeem, to set free;
to give His life.

It was on a holy, still night
in an obscure little village
He first came, unannounced,
unnoticed by those around.

And He continues, in the quiet;
bringing comfort, speaking truth;
ready to love, ready to fill
those who wait, those who thirst.

May we learn from Him;
not seeking fanfare or applause,
but in the stillness of our days,
may we live our lives, faithfully
giving our lives away, for Him,
because of Him.

(Pausing to listen and learn from Him during this 
often busy and always beautiful Christmas season.
Thanking Him, Immanuel: God with us)

Monday, November 25, 2019

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Do you love easy, delicious, one-dish meals as I do? This Creamy Chicken Enchiladas recipe from Taste of Home is one that I have made often in the past, but just made it again last week. 

This recipe also freezes well, and as the recipe makes two 9x13 pans, it works great to put one in the freezer to use later during this busy holiday season. It also would work well to dice up some of your left-over turkey meat from Thanksgiving Day to use in this recipe.

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Source:  (Click link to print)
Course: Main Course
Serves: 10


  • 1 package Cream Cheese (8 oz) softened
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 5 cups cooked chicken diced
  • 20 flour tortillas (6 inches) room temperature
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 ounces ea) undiluted
  • 2 cups sour cream 16 ounces
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cans chopped green chilies 4 ounces each
  • 2 cups Cheddar cheese (8 ounces)


  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, water, onion powder, cumin, salt and pepper until smooth. Stir in chicken.

  2. Place 1/4 cup chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla.

  3. Roll up and place seam side down in two greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dishes.

  4. In a large bowl, combine the soup, sour cream, milk and chilies; pour over enchiladas.

  5. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30-40 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with cheese; bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

  6. Yield: 10 servings.

You can add toppings, if you wish, for these creamy enchiladas ... as in the photo above (from several years ago), smothered with sour cream, salad greens, and tomatoes. It is also delicious served without toppings.

A photo from a number of years ago, when I divided the recipe into four 8x8 pans to freeze.

NOTE: This is an updated post from the past. Click here to view the original post in 2015.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Simple Home Beauty: Bringing Autumn Indoors

Are you a "homebody"? I sure am! Maybe that word has a negative connotation to some people, but not to me. I just love the simple joys of home. So much of life happens in our homes. It's where we gather together with those we love, where we prepare our meals and gather around the table, where we come to be refreshed and energized for this wonderful, busy, full, and often crazy life.

Homebody: One who enjoys
the simple pleasures and activities
that center around the home.

Don't you just love this definition of "homebody"? It's taken from a sweet little book I'm slowly reading through by Melissa Michaels ...

And do you love the various seasons of the year, as I do? The varying seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter each give us a sense of new beginnings, and also provide new and refreshing ways to bring warmth and joy into our homes, which in turn bring rest and refreshment to our souls. 

For each season of the year gives us opportunities to bring the beauty of outdoors even into our homes. Autumn is a prime time to showcase the brilliant and soul-feeding colors of outdoors! I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite indoor glimpses of the beauty of the season.   

I absolutely love this table centerpiece, purchased a year ago from Kirklands. The tablecloth and plaid placemat were purchased this year(the tablecloth on "clearance"), and I think the plaid placemat was either from Kohl's, or from Target. 

This little fall display on the dining room buffet is mostly from purchases from a few years ago, but the little cozy white house (with light inside) came from the "dollar" bins at Target this year!

And moving to another favorite room in our home - the kitchen!

This fall display (above) is on one of my kitchen countertops. First of all, you need to notice the beautiful tile backdrop that one of our sons-in-law put up for us ten years ago when he remodeled our kitchen and dining room for us (thanks, Tyler)! The muted olive green tray was a Christmas gift last year from one of our daughters (thanks, Cristy!), the gorgeous vase with fall flowers was a purchase from Kirklands this year, and the framed "Home Sweet Home" art was a purchase from Michael's this year as well.

On another counter in the kitchen, you'll see the fun little "Happy Pumpkin Spice Season" decor, a purchase from another year. Also the artificial green plant beauty was a gift from another daughter (thanks, Carrie!), and the Gold Canyon scented candle and stand were purchased from the same daughter who has been selling for Gold Canyon!

Some people are putting up their Christmas decorations already, but so far at least, I've always chosen to wait until after Thanksgiving Day. I just want to hang onto the beauty of autumn till then!

Our awesome God is the CREATOR
of all the autumn beauty, 
and it really does feed our souls! 
Such joy in bringing little glimpses
of His beautiful art into our homes - 
refreshing us, energizing us ... 
each day of this amazing season. 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Nearness to God

In this fast-paced, wonderful,
and often crazy world ...
I need this reminder of the source of what I long for. What I long for is not found in the achievements, in the pursuits of material things, or accomplishments. What we long for is found in a Person. "Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge,
a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in God at all times. Pour out your heart to Him,
for God is our refuge.

(Psalm 62:5-8 NLT)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

A Collection: Simple Joys of Autumn

There are so many joys this beautiful season that sometimes can get swallowed up in Christmas preparations. I just love autumn! The colors, the scents, the comforting soups, and so much more.

Here are some brief little glimpses into a few of the things that have given me joy this season ...

The joy of essential oils! I am continuing to learn more of the many uses of essential oils, and am loving the process! My little collection has been growing since I received a Young Living starter kit last year for Christmas. 

My recent purchases have been from REVIVE, and besides the health benefits that essential oils provide, I love the scents that fill our home as I've been diffusing some new autumn blends.

My five favorite blends for my diffuser this autumn:
4 drops orange + 2 drops clove + 2 drops immunity boost
4 drops immunity boost + 3 drops orange
3 drops bergamot + 2 drops orange + 2 drops cedarwood
6 drops immunity boost + 4 drops lemon + 2 drops stress easy
3 drops immunity boost + 3 drops orange + 3 stress easy

The joys of coffee! And more importantly, the joy of having coffee with someone we love!

The photo above represents a miracle! One of our daughters had a day off work in October, and invited us to meet her for coffee at a cute little coffee shop! We had experienced a long season of difficult years in our relationship as parents and daughter many years ago, and I will never get over the miracles that God has done! Such a very sweet coffee date with a precious daughter! 

The joy of fun little gifts! We brought home a few little souvenir gifts with us after a sweet little getaway to Lied Lodge in Nebraska City last month (see the photo below) and after a visit to the Arbor Day Farm while there.

The joy of a special autumn getaway together as a couple! Our six (grown) kids gave us a gift card last year for Christmas for a stay at Lied Lodge in Nebraska City. And autumn was the perfect time of year to schedule our trip! 

The fall colors were perfect, and our three-night stay was just wonderful ... extended devo times, walks in the crisp autumn air, time away together, away from the busyness of life.

- - - - - - -

It's so good to pause, to express thanks for God's many gifts to us ... this month of November, and all through the year.

Gratefulness isn't hard.
Forgetting to be grateful
is what makes life hard.
(Ann Voskamp)

Monday, October 28, 2019

Of Prime Importance

How do we get to know someone?
Not just superficially, but deeply?
It usually doesn't happen overnight.
And most often, it is very intentional.

Just as occurs with our human friendships, our closeness with the One who created us and who loves us so very deeply, doesn't usually happen overnight. There can be a sudden pulling of our hearts to Him, but over time, this relationship with God needs to be intentionally cared for.

What are the ways that God 
helps you to grow closer to Him? 

It may be different for each one of us. For me, some of the primary ways He has drawn my heart to know Him more deeply have been by experiencing His faithful love and care for me as I have gone through various trials. Hard, heart-breaking things that have brought me to depend on Him more deeply than ever before. Bringing me to a place where I am so lost and needy, and I desperately need Him.

Another of the main ways that He draws my heart closer, draws me to know Him more deeply, is through reading His Word. I need to spend time ... continued, intentional time in His Word. There is no shortcut to knowing someone unless we spend time with them. We must spend time listening carefully, listening deeply. It must be intentional, for there are so many things that pull us away, that distract us from what is most important. 

And in order to be able to hear from Him as I read His Word, I need to quiet my heart and mind, to intentionally pause, and listen. For how can we hear unless we truly listen?

Satisfy us each morning with Your unfailing love,
so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
(Psalm 90:14 NLT)

One of the tools that I've been using recently as I pause and read His Words is the Chronological Life Application Study Bible (NLT). I am loving this fresh approach of reading His Word chronologically. Also, with the added maps, diagrams, and notes in this Bible, the Old Testament is coming alive to me in deeper ways than ever before. I'm underlining and making notes in my main Bible, the (in)Courage Devotional Bible, but also using this Chronological Study Bible is opening my eyes and my heart to know Him in more ways than before. 

Whatever the tool or the avenue of getting to know God more intimately, our hearts are key.  Sharing our hearts with Him, and listening to His heart. A longing, a deep desire, and an intentional heart - all by the grace of God - will take us on an exciting, never-ending journey of knowing and walking with God. 

You're my place of quiet retreat;
I wait for Your Word to renew me.
(Psalm 119:114 MSG)

Monday, October 21, 2019

Our Pleasure and Passion

What is your, and what is my pleasure and passion? What is the source of our greatest pleasure, satisfaction, and happiness? There are many things that satisfy, that give us deep joy ... too many to count. The love of family, of friends, the beauty of the seasons that fill our senses. And I love it all - all are gifts from God. But what is the driving force that directs our lives; what is the deepest longing of our hearts? What is the one thing, the only thing that will truly satisfy? "Make God the utmost delight and pleasure of your life, and He will provide for you what you desire the most." (Psalm 37:4 TPT) Loving Lord, may I run to You,
draw close to You,
quiet my heart to hear from You,
and dwell in Your Love -
continually, every day, today.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

In the Kitchen: Summer Fruits

Just a quick little "In the Kitchen" post - one I had hoped to put up in September. But here we are in the middle of October already!

I couldn't resist taking this photo (above) after I made a Breakfast Fruit Smoothie last month. Not only delicious, but also so beautiful! I tried out the basic ingredients that our daughter in TX used for the delicious smoothies she served us while we were there for a visit the beginning of September. (Thanks, Cristy!)

Place in a blender: two large spoonfuls of yogurt, one fresh banana (not frozen), two slightly heaping cups of frozen fruit, and milk (as needed for desired consistency). Pulse in blender , breaking up frozen fruit as needed, and blend  until smooth. (Note: I used frozen peach slices, mixed berries, and blueberries.)

With just the two of us here now, and being the only one of us two who uses these for breakfast, I froze the extra individual cups of smoothies to pull out for breakfasts. My preferred way to use them is to take one out before bed in the evening and put it in the refrigerator overnight. Perfect for a breakfast smoothie in the morning! 

It was such a treat to pick these beautiful white peaches from a family orchard while we were in McCook the very end of August! They are as delicious as they are beautiful! 

These frozen sliced peaches are perfect to use for smoothies and also desserts, and it's great to have bags of sliced peaches ready in the freezer. After dipping the slices in a mix of lemon juice and water (1/2 cup lemon juice & 2 cups water), I spread them out on pans to freeze the slices individually before putting them in quart bags for the freezer.

We had picked enough peaches for 19 quart bags of frozen peach slices! Such a treat!

And now, we're entering into another beautiful autumn season, with all the warm, comforting foods of the season!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Digital Scrapbooking: Summer Memories

I'm back again with a digital scrapbooking post! It has been awhile! Life has been full, and I just have not been able to take much time for this hobby of preserving memories in digital scrapbooking form very regularly for the past half year or so. 

But I did put together a few pages over the recent months ... and here are a few to share.

From May ...

The page above captures memories from a beautiful spring day when three of our daughters and their families were here for a special picnic together, also celebrating a birthday!

From June ...

Capturing some of the summer fun with gardens, grandkids, and good  summer food!

From July ...

The beginning of July brought a big move for one of our daughters and her family - sad to have them move away from our town, but we're so excited for them for their new place, with lake view!

And from early September ...

It was such fun to make a trip down to the Dallas area to visit another daughter and her family. We absolutely loved our time there!


Note: Most of the page templates and digital products that I use are purchased from Digital Project Life. About seven years ago I switched from paper scrapbooking, and took some online lessons from Digital Scrapper to learn how to digital scrapbook using Photoshop Elements. You can also click here for some great tutorials on the Digital Project Life website - this is a quicker way to learn than the site that I used seven years ago. I recommend using these tutorials. Also, besides being able to share my completed pages online, I also print them out at home in 8x8 inch size to fit in the albums that I purchase from Michael's.

Friday, September 20, 2019

We Become What We Behold

What do we⠀focus on
the majority of the day?⠀
There is so much that draws our⠀
attention, needs our attention.⠀
But, what is the primary thing⠀
that drives our hearts even in the⠀
midst of the hustle of our days?⠀
Is our deepest focus
underneath all the busyness⠀
and in the midst of all of life,⠀
set on God?⠀
"Nearness to God⠀
brings likeness to God. The more ⠀
you see God the more of God ⠀
will be seen in you."⠀
(Charles Spurgeon)
"How we direct our eyes, minds, ⠀
hearts, and hands in the everyday ⠀
will determine whom we ⠀
ultimately worship and what ⠀
we ultimately become."⠀

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Come Anytime, Come with Everything

"So the Lord
must wait for you to come
to Him so He can show you
His love and compassion."
(Isaiah 30:18a)

We can come anytime.
We can come with everything.
The invitation is always open.
We don't need to hesitate;
we can always come.

"I love the Lord because He hears
my voice and my prayer for mercy.
Because He bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath."
(Psalm 116:1-2)