Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Today is the day before thanksgiving. This morning on my way to my elementary school I was just overcome with thankfulness and a glad heart. God has really been stretching me over the past six months and I am finally beginning to see some fruit. Here are some things I am thankful for.
1. God's provision. After 5 months of waiting not-so-patiently, God has begun to provide for Greg and I. This week alone after nothing but leads for 5 months Greg has 2 contracted listings and a potential buyer. Not only this but he agreed to start working part time as a property manager which is some guaranteed income! During this same week or week and a half I was asked to talk about a possible assistantship for next semester. I think God is showing off, and I really appreciate it. I am so thankful for his promised provision.
2. If number 1 wasn't enough, we found a cute little house outside of battleground and will be moving in December. Still renting, but definitely an answered prayer!
3. I am so thankful for thanksgiving time. This time of year is so precious because we get to spend time with family and friends that we don't often see.
4. My grad program. Wait, did I really say that? I am learning to be thankful for all of the quality instruction and time in internship. I hope God uses me as an elementary school counselor someday.
5. My husband. Simple as that. He is truly a great man to be married to and I couldn't be happier to call myself his wife.
6. Our church and the people within it.
7. My family and friends. I so appreciate the people God has placed in my life to lift me up, encourage me, and sharpen me.
8. My elementary school kids. They crack me up, give me hugs, and teach me so much about life, love, and faith. quote from this morning "Deck the boughs with balls of holly fa lalalala la la la la" A little girl sang this as she walked through the halls. Other fun quotes. "quiz me on Justin Beiber" "Good luck on being a counselor"(written in a note that he gave me after a classroom lesson) "How old are you? 20?" "Mrs. Smith, you have a good thanksgiving too!" I love them.
As I sit here typing, watching the snow/sleet/rain mix drizzle outside, I am just so happy. We don't have a lot of money or a lot of time but we are so very blessed. Now my thankful heart and body are gonna go make some yummy chocolate cinnamon bread for the family and see a dear friend for a bit tonight.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Get excited, their coming! Pumpkin Sugar Cookies are on their way!
Tonight was a momentous occasion for me. I jumped, I giggled, I laughed, and I scolded my husband when he wouldn't take a good picture of me.
Tonight, I created my very first baking recipe. I have always been terrified of trying new things with baking. It seemed that steering off the yellow brick road of baking recipes would only lead to disaster. Boy, oh boy, was I wrong.
Next stop... cookbook!
Haha, just kidding. Well, maybe ;)
This post is just a teaser, full post with pictures, and the finished recipe coming soon!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
In honor of kicking off the fall season I had to bake! I think bakerella is going to start seeing a trend if she ever looks at my blog, considering I keep making what she posts. I cannot take much credit for this cake, but boy was it amazing. I think I will have a little leftover piece for dessert tonight.
Easy Apple Cake
first you will need ingredients.
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
I added 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups oil (next time I'm using 1/2 applesauce, 1/2 oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups diced apples (I used gala)
1 cup chopped dates rolled in flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
Then you need to make it!
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and cinnamon with a wire whisk and set aside.
- Combine sugar and oil using a mixer until blended.
- Add eggs and vanilla, mixing until combined.
- Add flour mixture and mix well.
- Stir in nuts, dates and apples. The batter will be very thick.
- Pour into a greased and floured 9 X 13 pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until done.
- Cool cake and using a skewer, poke holes in cake.
- Cook topping ingredients on stove until mixture bubbles.
- Pour topping over cake letting some (ha… more if you like) seep into the cake.
I am kind of sad I forgot to take pictures of it with the topping. Oh the topping, I am surprised I didn't go into a sugar coma!
Mmmm, who doesn't love apple cake with a caramel like topping on a cold day :)
Not only did I make cake to celebrate fall, but I finally made a wreath! I have been wanting one for a couple of years but they are so stinkin' expensive (80 at hobby lobby!) So, I decided to put my flower arranging class to good use and made my own for a whopping $23! I could have probably even gone cheaper than that. Now, I love walking in my front door :)
Monday, September 20, 2010
Initially, I had thought of posting these two yummy creations in two separate posts. However, I decided in the honor of brevity and simplicity I would just combine them. I mean, c'mon, who doesn't like cake and pizza! (Well, i guess my husband doesn't like cake, but he likes this one!)
Lets start with the pizza. Although, you should be thinking about the cake. Oh, the cake. Ok. Pizza first.
This recipe came from Emi, one of my friends. We went over to their house for dinner one night and she had set up an area for us to make our own pizzas. I thought it was so clever that I had to steal the idea!
This weekend my mom and brother came down from fort wayne and it gave me a great excuse to make these pizzas. I prepped the dough, set out the toppings, and we made our own special little creations! It was actually really fun. Each pizza reflected each person. I'm the healthy eater so mine was loaded with veggies. My mother loves cheese, and made that clear with her pizza. Hubby loves his meat and he made sure he put a lot on. My brother loves simple cheese, mushroom, and pepperoni pizza.
I forgot to take pictures, but here are the end results!
Recipe for the Pizza Dough:
Whisk 3 3/4 C flour with 1 1/2 tsp salt.
Make a well and add 1 1/3 C warm water, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 packet yeast
When foamy mix in 3 T olive oil/
Do this all in your kitchen aid mixer with the dough hook attachment. Knead on low to med low for 3-5 minutes or until the dough looks smooth and has come together in a ball. Brush with olive oil and cover with a wet towel or napkin in a bowl. Let rise until doubled (about 1.5 hours)
Divide into 2 1 pound balls. Use 1lb per pizza. (If making personal pizzas I think you can get away with using 1/2 lb)
Top with desired toppings and bake at 500 on a preheated pan for 15-20 minutes.
Now, what you've been waiting for. Yep, it's time. Cake!
I fell in love with this cake in college. It was a shoemaker staple and all of us women looked forward to the days that we would get this delightful treat.
I do think I ought to warn you all. This cake is r-i-c-h rich! It probably has about 1000 calories per slice, but it is oh so good! So good in fact that it has a pretty funny name.
Better than Sex Cake, let me tell you, it may not be better than sex, but it's pretty close!
Here are some pictures. You've been warned.
1 box chocolate cake mix (I use devils food)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 jar caramel topping
1 C heath bar topping
1 container cool whip
Bake the cake according to package directions. While it is still warm poke a bunch of holes in it. I used a chop stick, a toothpick doesn't get them big enough for all of the goodness to soak in. Next, pour on the sweetened condensed milk.
Once that has some time to soak in, its time for the next step. Pour the caramel sauce all over the top. Stare in amazement.
Refrigerate until cool. Then before serving top with cool whip and heath bar pieces. Try not to eat it, wait... you need to share it, right?! Serve up cold and yummy!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Here are some pictures!
Sunday, August 29, 2010
The trip itself was amazing. Just being in God's creation for a whole week without cell phones, computers, and tv's to distract us was great. I was reminded, so often over the course of the week, to be in awe of God's creation. The speaker for the week opened the first night with a story about a little boy and a ring pop. This little boy was so excited when he finally opened his ring pop (after trying for what seemed to be an eternity) that he stated with wonder, "It's Wed." Just imagine how this little boy was so excited over a red ring pop. Think about it. After this sermon, we walked outside. I looked up and the sky was painted with hues of pink, peach, and red. I couldn't help but say "it's wed!"
The whole week was filled with wonder, awe, excitement, laughter, and praise. We saw 15 teenagers get baptized in the New River. It seemed fitting that they were baptized there, they are new creations. I thought of how similarly their baptisms were to the first church. No troughs, no bathtubs built into the church, just them, a river, and God's creation. We heard stories of healing and of pure joy for being adopted into Jesus' family. I was reminded of how articulate teens can be. I also forgot how much energy they have! Sheesh, I just couldn't keep up with them!
We served, made meals, and simply spent time with the kids. Not to mention, I got to spend time with one of my best friends Cassie and her husband Caleb. We white water rafted, hiked up a raging creek bed, and slid down sliding rock. We praised Jesus with worship in a cathedral created by trees and light from the campfire. We prayed. We loved it. The experience was tiring and I was glad to be home. Now, a month later, I am longing to be back there. Life seemed simpler there, less distracted. I hope that someday we can do something similar for the teens we know. Take them away from cell phones and facebook and reintroduce them to their creator.
The Students getting ready to go
The view from the New River Bridge
Baptisms at Sliding rock
This was my favorite moment, father and son right after he was baptized.
Didn't these girls prepare such a nice meal?!
Sliding Rock again
Beautiful view from Babcock State Park
The creek we climbed through
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
This summer I had the privilege of working for Food Finders and I spent my summer feeding local kids. I loved working part time, coming home, and being free. I had time to spend with my husband and friends, time to build relationships, and time to be passionate about something again. I know that after next week I am no longer free. I am tied down to school and internship and then second semester teaching on top of it all. (Don't I sound excited?) However, and this is a fairly big however, I am excited to begin my internship as an elementary school counselor. After all, it is my dream job.
Other than all of this, we are currently going through some other tough transitions. If you know anything about me, you would know that I'm fairly flexible in day to day life, but I hate big changes. God sure is stretching me. I'm feeling like I'm about to break. But, God say's he won't give us more than we can handle so I will cling to His promises. Things will turn around. I am working on being patient in my suffering and thankful for trials because of what they produce. I will be stronger because of this. Romans 5:3-5 puts it best " 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." So, for now, I am fixing my eyes forward. Looking to the future and knowing that God has something good in store for us. I am trying not to dwell on and get stuck in the present because that usually leads to bitterness and anger. If I look forward, I am already moving on and letting go.
I will say that I have been on creative overload lately. I am working on editing a ton of pictures, finding decorating ideas, baking, and looking for things to sew once I actually get a sewing machine. I am actually really excited because tomorrow I will be taking pictures for some friends at the Indianapolis zoo. They have 2 kiddos so I'm pretty stoked about the possibilities.
That's all for now. I will post some of my edited pictures soon!
Monday, August 2, 2010
I have a confession. Sometimes, I act a lot like Jonah.
Now, I must explain, the Jonah I know today is much different than the one I knew about when I was little. You know, Jonah who runs away from God, gets swallowed by a whale, repents, and goes to Nineveh to preach to the people.
Today, after this sermon, Jonah looks a lot different to me.
Brian Clay was our speaker for the week and he really opened my eyes to the real story of Jonah. The following is somewhat of a recap of a sermon he did about Jonah.
Jonah was kind of a punk. First, he runs away from God, which as we all know is silly since God is everywhere. Silly, Jonah. Then, when a storm comes upon their ship he tells the men to throw him overboard. Sounds like a selfless thing to do, right? Well, when we dig deeper into the consequences of throwing a prophet overboard, we find that because prophets were so important during this time, it was well known that death would come upon anyone who harmed a prophet. Basically, this means Jonah was not only willing to die so he didn't have to go to Ninevah, but he was also willing to let innocent men die for harming a prophet. He could have jumped of the boat, right? But he didn't, he asked the men to throw him over. The men knew that he was a prophet, so they tried to row back, but the storm grew worse and they had no choice but to throw Jonah overboard. Jonah 1:14 says "They cried to the Lord "O Lord, please do not let us die for taking this man's life..." They knew what they were about to do could mean death for them.
After all of this, the sea quiets, and Jonah is swallowed by a giant fish and the men live. Now, this isn't Jiminy Cricket, he didn't sit with a lantern in the belly of the fish. He was swallowed. Yuck.
Now, this is where things get interesting. We were all taught that Jonah repents and the whale nicely coughs him onto shore. Sounds like a nice story, right? But wait, go to your bible and look up Jonah 2:2-10. Once you have it looked up, circle all the I's and Me's in his prayer. Here, I will help you out.
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.
2 He said:
In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. 3 You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. 4 I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again towards your holy temple.' 5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in for ever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God. 7When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 8Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.10And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.So, usually when someone repents, they say Sorry, Lord, I really messed up, please forgive me, I will do whatever you ask. I just don't see that in Jonah's prayer. I hear a lot about what happened, how he prayed to God, and how he is still bitter towards the Ninevites, even implying that they have already forfeited the grace that could be theirs. Then, get this, the fish VOMITS him onto dry land. Not cough, not deliver, not even spit. He VOMITS. I'm sorry, but this does not seem pleasant to me. I really don't think God was too happy with Jonah, but he was gracious and merciful and gave him a second chance.
At this point, we expect that Jonah would go into the city, willingly, and preach God's grace to them. I mean, he was just shown an enormous amount of grace for being so utterly disobedient. First we need some information. Nineveh is a BIG city, it takes 3 days to travel through. Yet, Jonah walks in, and on the first day (of what should take 3) basically says there is no hope, your all gonna die. Jonah 3:4 "On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed " Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned." Sounds hopeful, right?
Here is the crazy part. Nineveh repents and turns away from their horrible ways (these people were bad people, I mean they sacrificed babies to their false gods kind of bad). God shows them grace and did not bring destruction.
Even crazier is what Jonah does next. He rejoices and the story ends. Wait. No, thats not what happens! He pouts and becomes so angry with God that he even tells God off. I'm sorry, what?! He tells God off. He, acting like a three year old, responds to God by saying he is so angry he could die. Then, wait it gets better, he goes and builds a shelter outside of the city to watch and wait for them to screw up. He wants them to fail. He is so prideful and self righteous that he hopes for their failure.
Even more astounding is what God does next. At this point, I'm fully expecting some righteous anger from God. But what does he do? He gently and patiently teaches Jonah a lesson about grace and love. He provides a vine to shelter Jonah, which makes him happy. Then, has a worm eat it. Not surprisingly, Jonah gets mad and wishes to die again, and then God speaks.
"9 But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?"
"I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die."
10 But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"We don't get to see Jonah's response, but I'm hoping it was of repentance. I had never read the book of Jonah with this view before and it has opened my eyes so much. I saw God's patience, love, and grace shine through this entire story. God could have easily let Jonah die, and find a different prophet to do His will, one who was obedient. But He didn't, he chose to teach Jonah a lesson. Not only Jonah, but many more, including me.
I got 3 main points from this: 1. When we are disobedient, we look foolish. 2. God has more ways of accomplishing His will, than we do of avoiding it. 3. God is full of grace, compassion, and patience.
I can see Jonah in myself sometimes. I get impatient with God, mad about things that I shouldn't, and run away when I should be obedient. I pout about things not going the way I think they should. Sometimes, I forget how patient and full of mercy God is. I forget that he is often trying to teach us lessons in loving one another, even those who seem unlovable.
I will forever see Jonah in a different light and I'm thankful that God has opened my eyes to see the real story of Jonah and the whale.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Get ready to get hungry. I usually make this into cupcakes but for the fourth of july, in the hunt for patriotism, I actually made it into cake form. This is Paula Deen's Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake, with a few of my own alterations.
This cake doesn't usually have blueberries on it, but let me tell you, they were yummy!
Here is the recipe:
Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen
- Prep Time:
- 15 min
- Inactive Prep Time:
- 10 min
- Cook Time:
- 20 min
- 8 servings
Ingredients1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed (I use a pint of fresh with some sugar)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
Strawberry cream cheese frosting, recipe follows
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed (I just used some leftover puree from my fresh strawberries approx 1/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract (I didn't use this)
7 cups confectioners' sugar
Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional
DirectionsPreheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium
speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden
pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire
For the frosting:
DirectionsIn a large bowl, beat
butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry
puree and the vanilla extract. (The rest of the puree is leftover but can be used in smoothies or on ice cream
for a delicious treat.) Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth.
Spread frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries, if
Monday, June 28, 2010
The theme of the conference was "The Father's Love." I knew that this conference could be hard with all of my father issues. Brief explanation: I didn't really have a dad growing up. Well, I was right. Some of the topics were hard to swallow simply because I had a very distorted view of fatherhood due to my earthly father being a bad example of fatherhood.
One session was particularly difficult. The session itself wasn't too bad. I really absorbed a lot during it and wasn't emotional or distant. At the end, the pastor came up and began to pray. All of the sudden he began to pray "He is father to the fatherless" and I lost it. I began to weep at the thought. I had known this much of my life and really embraced it in high school, but for some reason it never really sunk in that I was fatherless. I had a dad, he was just a deadbeat dad. But I was, and am, fatherless.
As he prayed, I began to really feel the weight of all that was being dredged up. I just cried. I went up and got prayer, but it wasn't super helpful or relevant to what I was going through. So some friends who know my situation were going to pray for me later, long story short it didn't work out.
The next session was up and here I am still dealing with, well more or less suppressing, all that had been dredged up. So we went on with the next session and I sat, listened, and absorbed. Then, prayer time. This time he asked people who struggle with comparisons to come up. Well, thats me, again. I began to think God was messing with me, Gee thanks God way to dredge up all my deep seeded insecurities. I head up, praying that God will speak through someone more clearly than before. I wait. Then a hand on my shoulder and Emi begins praying for me. Thanks, God for sending someone I know. Let me tell you, I have only ugly cried once during prayer. Well, now I have twice.
I could go through the whole experience, but this blog is getting pretty long, so I will make it short. Basically, God really got to me about being his daughter, being worthy, and being precious in His sight. I really felt the Holy Spirit moving and just stirring up this realization that I am precious in His sight. Later in the conference I was praying and got this image of me as a young girl walking with God, father God looking as fatherly as you would expect, and as we walked we talked and laughed and he reminded me of how precious I was to him. It was this beautiful image of fatherhood and my role as a daughter with a father who loves and cares for me.
Father God loves us deeply and we often forget just how precious we are to Him. Since conference the word precious has really stuck with me. I was also able to let go of some bitterness and anger towards others that I had been holding onto. All of that to say that conference was so good, so impacting, and perception changing.
Monday, June 7, 2010
For now, you get cake pops!
I have been so excited to try and make these little buggers ever since I saw them on Bakerella. I made them for a cookout we were having and they seemed to be a pretty big hit. That is a big part of why I love to cook and bake, to see the joy in people when they try something and like it.
Mine aren't as fancy (or as well shaped) as hers, but pretty stinkin' cute none the less. Here are some pictures from the day!
Here is the recipe from Bakerella:
1 box cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can frosting (16 oz.)
candy melts (1 lb. pkg.)
1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can frosting. (I use the back of a large spoon, but it may be easier to use fingers to mix together. But, be warned, it will get messy. Also, you may not need the entire can of frosting, so start out by using almost the entire can and add more if you need to.)
3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50)
4. Melt chocolate in the microwave per directions on package. (30 sec intervals, stirring in between.)
5. Dip the tip of your lollipop stick in a little of the melted candy coating and insert into the cake balls. (Insert a little less than halfway.)
6. Place them in the freezer for a little while to firm up.
7. Once firm, carefully insert the cake ball into the candy coating by holding the lollipop stick and rotating until covered. Once covered remove and softly tap and rotate until the excess chocolate falls off. Don’t tap too hard or the cake ball will fall off, too.
8. Place in a styrofoam block to dry.
9. Once dry, draw faces with an edible ink pen and allow ink to dry!