Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Letting go

It seems as if each year for the last few years, the Christmas season has been a time of loss and letting go for me or for my family, and this year proves to be not much different.  For the last 5 months we have been blessed with a sweet baby boy in our home almost every weekend and holiday.   We have watched him grow and learn, and loved him with all our hearts.  Unexpectedly, he is leaving the state and we have to let him go.  The news was devestating and almost impossible to understand..."how could?"..."why?"... and immediately I thought of her...


She loved him for far more than a few months.  She was with him all the time.  He called her 'mommy' and reached for her when he was hurt, layed his head on her shoulder when he was sleepy, and smiled at her when he awoke each day.  But yet, she would have to let go...did she know?  (And if she did, given the choice, would she have loved anyway, fully, without pause or hesitation?  I believe, yes.)

Amazingly and beautifully enough, His coming, Love, would be the very thing, the very One, to heal her broken heart when she, too, had to let go.  His coming, Love, will "bind up the brokenhearted" (Isaiah 61:1) each and every time we allow Him to flow in like the soothing balm that is Him.  Love.  Jesus. God. Born to love us. Save us.  Me, Mary, you.  In leaving, loving.  In hurt, healing.  This is Love.



Friday, December 10, 2010

Homemade (EASY) Chicken Noodle Soup (for Kelly)

Kelly, from Kellys Korner blog asked for a good soup recipe as her family is down with the yucks.  I had to share mine from my sweet friend Kiki--its'yummy, EASY, and makes the house smell delicious.  You'll love this recipe under-the-weather or not!

Kiki's Chicken Noodle Soup

1 bag Reemes frozen noodles
2 boxes PLUS 1-2 cans chicken broth
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans of chicken breast (found in canned meat aisle)  I often use chicken breasts I've put in the crockpot all day, but these work and taste just as well!
shedded carrots (already done for you in the bag)
a few celery stalks
flour and water for thickening

Saute shredded carrots and chopped celery in 2 tablespoons of Olive oil.
Add these to a stock pan with the broth and cream of chicken soup and frozen noodles.  Add about 2-3 teaspoons of sage (no measuring here:  add a little, simmer, taste)  Add the salt and pepper to taste.  If you need a little thickening, make a past of about 3 tablespoons of flour to a little water or chicken broth.  Add and simmer.



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cupcake Gifts!

Considering my recent cupcake infatuation AND my desire to "downsize" the holidays this year to a more simpler state, I'm loving the thought of Cupcakes as gifts!  Cupcake-in-a-jar is not a new idea, but could be so special, especially for holiday gift giving while being fun and easy to do at the same time.  Take a look at some of these beauties...

photo: pauladeen.com
This one is Miss Paula Deen's Brandied Cherries Cupcake in a Jar, and the best part---you bake the cupcake IN the jar!  How easy is that?  You can find the recipe and more here.

Of course Martha has an offering herself with these---
                           photo: marthastewartweddings.com
Buttermilk Cupcakes in a Jar! Yum! This is originally from Martha Stewart Weddings, but I love the color of the raspberry jam and a change of the label to a more "holiday-ish" greeting would be so festive!  You can find that recipe here.

Last, but not least, my favorite...I am just mad about red velvet cake and I always make one or two at Christmas.  So why not incorporate that into gift giving...so much easier to transport!  (This one is pictured from http://mycakies.blogspot.com. )
I use my mother's red velvet cake recipe and the cooked flour icing.  It's a little more tedious but amazingly delicious.  The frosting is also known as Waldorf Astoria Frosting.  Below is the recipe I use:   



  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces red food coloring ( for a $-saving tip:  Use only one bottle (one oz.) of food coloring and fill the bottle with water and add.  It works just the same!)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk  (TIP:  if you don't have buttermilk, pour one T of white vinegar into a measuring cup and fill with whole milk to 1 cup.  Let stand for a few minutes before adding)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Add food coloring and mix gently.  Sift  together the cocoa, flour and salt. ( I sift twice--call me OCD!) Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture. Pour batter into 2 (8-inch) round greased and floured pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from heat and cool completely before frosting.
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • Pinch of salt

Cook stirring constantly, until thick (like a glob of mashed potatoes). Let mixture cool to room temperature before adding to sugar mixture.

Cream together:

  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. Crisco
  • 1 stick of butter

Beat sugar and butter mixture on high speed until fluffy. Add cooked mixture and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat on high speed until really fluffy. Swirl on cake and refrigerate for 3-4 hours before serving. Any cake with this frosting MUST be kept in the refrigerator.



Monday, December 6, 2010

Wedding thoughts

So, my sweet Jerica got married Saturday! What a beautiful bride she made, and for an oh so handsome groom named Brandon!  As I watched my own beautiful girls, her junior bridesmaids, come down the aisle, I was a little overcome, just because they are such blessings and so beautiful.  And then, as I watched and listened to Jerica make her pledges of love and commitment to Brandon, and his to her, I couldn't help but let my mind wander...
      I could hear them laughing over funny wedding gifts and memories of Brandon and his buddies dancing.  I could see Jerica in a sassy apron presenting him with the "first" official married dinner---maybe pizza casserole?  And then fast forward, my mind buzzed...I could hear the sound the little machine makes when they hear their baby's heartbeat for the first time some day. I could see Jerica snapping pictures of the first day of Kindergarten and imagined Brandon passing a ball with that little one.  I couldn't help but think about the day when Jerica's heart is broken because she's lost someone that meant the world to her and Brandon holds her and wipes her tears.  I could see him take her hand as they prayed together over friends who were having a difficult time.  And then I prayed, prayed silently and fervently that every day, they would make the choice to love each other, even when days are dark because life does that sometimes and it's not easy and it's not fun.   (My dad used to tell me, "love isn't an emotion, it's an action")  It's so settling to know that when the Lord moves, his work is perfect!

I'm so happy for them and so blessed by them.  Someone asked me Saturday how I first met Jerica and my mind went back to the day at the park when she told me she felt the Lord had told her to be my helper for my girls, their sitter.  Wow, that seems like such a long time ago...And as I stood there telling the story, I could hear the Father say to me, "see, I've never left you, I've sent you a helper and I'll continue to give you everything you need.  Every ONE, every TIME".
So thank you sweet Jerica, for loving me, loving my girls and listening to our Father. 

Congratulations sweets!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Book Wreath

I have wanted to make a book wreath ever since being inspired by the one seen here

So, I finally set out to do my own.  You can find a great tutorial at this site, but it's such an easy project, I will try to give you a little tutorial of my own.

You will need the following:
  • One foam wreath, your choice of size (mine was 10" from the dollar store)
  • Sewing pins (I used these instead of a glue gun...So much easier I thought, and no burns!)
  • A book that you don't mind ripping up.  Mine is an old one so I didn't have to paint the sides to "age" it, it was already quite aged (and from my Dad's collection of old books...don't think I didn't have alterior motives using that one.  I'll think of him every time I see that wreath.  He loved books!)
Step 1:  Rip the pages from the book
Step 2:  fold the pages up however you like.  I folded each page in half and kind of "gathered" it up

I love the way it looked when I folded them.

Next, I simply stuck a pin through the bottom of each kind of folding a little tab on the bottom of each filling the wreath...

And here's the final look...

I really love how it turned out and truly it only took me about an hour.  I watched TV with the girls while I did it.  The total cost was $1 for the wreath form and about $1 for the ribbon I used to hang it.  I had everything else! 

Let me know if you try one!