Friday, December 28, 2012

"Christmas" party

Every year, I have a Christmas party with my lovely friends Joy and Bekka.  This year, we had our party on Saturday and it was delightful.  Basically, we make the cheesiest meal we can think of.  This year it consisted of a warm Brie and Cranberry appetizer, Gnocchi with Tomato-Mozzarella Sauce, broccoli, Pumpkin and Smoked Gouda Bisque, and Mocha Cheesecake.  Sounds cheesy?  Yeah.  And expensive. 
However, after Joy and I discovered the Karaoke machine that Bekka has been hiding from us at her place, the party became a Karaoke marathon disguised as a Christmas party.  Joy and I sang Karaoke for hours, forcing Bekka to sing with us .  When my brother and Bekka's brother came in, we forced them to sing too.  Soooo fun.  Although I have to say, it is a little sad that I have been given this love of singing when I really do NOT have a good voice.  Thankfully Bekka has a beautiful voice.  The most I can say about Joy and I is that we sing with a lot of heart. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pure and faultless

Hope  you all had a wonderful, blessed Christmas!  I certainly did.

I also just finished one of the best books I have ever read, Kisses from Katie.   This book just breaks my heart open.   Katie truly knows what it means to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth.  In what started out in an interest in going to Uganda for a missions trip, Katie fell in love with Uganda.  After high school, Katie left her family, her boyfriend, and her whole life behind to move to Uganda.  From the time she got there, Katie worked from morning til night caring for the poor.  She has started a non-profit organization to help children be fed, clothed, and go to school.  She cares for the sick and feeds the hungry.  She removes jiggers from children’s feet and holds orphans.  She truly, truly knows what it means to care for the widows and orphans.   And she has adopted 14 beautiful Ugandan girls who she showers in love and care.

There are so many wonderful insights that I wish I could share with you, but I’ll just share this one: 

“People are people.   They all need food and water and medicine, but mostly they need love and truth and Jesus.  I can do that.  WE can do that.  We can give people food, water, medicine, love, truth and Jesus.  The same God created all of us for a purpose, which is to serve Him and to love and to care for His people.  It is universal.  We can’t do it in our own strength or out of our own resources, but as we follow God to wherever He is leading us.  He makes the impossible happen.”

And it’s true.  Jesus calls us to follow him.  He doesn’t say sit in your warm clothes and warm house and not care about those around us.  We can do that.  Or we can stop and think about what it means to care for the widows and the orphans.  I hope you will read this book and think about what it means to follow Jesus.  And maybe then, God will use US to accomplish the impossible. 

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bring on the food!

Hi all! Today I'm going to share some Christmas "food gifts" that I made this year.  Each one was easy, gorgeous, and perfect to package up for a gift.  Enjoy!

Door County Cherry Biscotti

3 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
3-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons shortening, divided
4 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped

Separate one egg; set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs and reserved egg yolk. Beat in extract. Combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Turn onto a floured surface. Knead in cherries and almonds. Divide dough in half; shape each portion into a 12-in. x 3-in. rectangle. Transfer to a greased baking sheet. Beat reserved egg white; brush over dough. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake at 350° for 28-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 10 minutes.
Transfer to a cutting board; with a serrated knife, cut each rectangle diagonally into 18 slices. Place cut side down on greased baking sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until firm and crisp, turning once. Remove to wire racks to cool.
In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon shortening; stir until smooth. Drizzle over both sides of cookies. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set.
Melt white chocolate and remaining shortening at 70% power for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth.
Drizzle over both sides of cookies. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 3 dozen.

Sorry, I know this picture doesn't show the mix at all!

Taco Seasoning

1/4 cup dried minced onion
1/4 cup chili powder
3 tablespoons salt
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

To make:
3/4 cup mix
1 pound ground beef
1/3 to 1/2 cup water

Dilly Pretzels

1 package (14-16 oz) mini pretzels
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 envelope (.4 oz) ranch dressing mix
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Spread pretzels in an ungreased 15 by 10 inch baking pan.  Combine oil, mix, and seasonings; pour over pretzels and mix well.  Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  Cool.  Store in airtight container. 

I put these in cute Chinese food boxes from Michaels. 

Pancakes from the Pantry

Mix (makes 8 cups mix):
4 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons baking powder
5 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

To make:
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups pancake mix
1 cup water

Peppermint Hot Cocoa

Found this wonderful, cute recipe from Erin at Living in Yellow.  She even had printable labels! Go check her out. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Card Swap!

Hi all!

I love LOVE love Christmas cards.  If you want to truly make my day, send me a card.  I always send out Christmas cards to friends and family so when I saw the Christmas card swap going on, I signed up!  I received 3 lovely cards from 3 lovely ladies. 

I have already been reading Kaylee's blog over at All Things Bright and Beautiful for a while and was delighted to find Angela at Keeping the Faith and Lauren at The Crazy Life of LT.

Thanks girls! Loved receiving the cards.  Now go say HI to them!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Broken hearts.

This is a world of broken hearts.

This is a world of hurt.

As I lay in bed these past few nights, my eyes fill with tears for those who can’t sleep tonight because their precious children have been ripped away from them. And I silently thank God that I have had one more day with the ones I love.

Nothing can fix those broken hearts. Not 200K likes on Facebook. Not money. Not cards or phone calls. But we can all do our best to show we care.

Pray. Donate. Love. Send them cards and bracelets. Pray some more.

In this world, people have their hearts broken as their children are taken from them every day. Not in such horrific and terrifying ways, but broken nonetheless. There isn’t anything we can do to change that except beg Jesus to come and bind up our wounds.

Yes, it is a world of broken hearts. I believe God has made it that way to make us long for Him. Please come back soon, Jesus.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The language of gifts

I speak the language of gifts.  If you have read about the five love languages, you will know what I’m talking about.  If not, then you should read it.  Anyway, one of my absolute favorite things about Christmas is buying gifts for people.  I love to pick out the PERFECT present.  I get so, so, SO excited to watch people open my gifts.  I get nervous too, cause I want it to be perfect.  It’s not about the money.  It’s about the thought.  And sometimes the time.  It’s about that person realizing that you didn’t just rush to the store at the last minute to get a gift card, but you put thought and effort into thinking of what they want.   Because you appreciate them. 
I know not everyone is that way.  But I am.  Just sayin’.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Art of Compassion.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.  Romans 12:15

Do you ever find yourself hard-pressed to feel compassion for some people?  I am ashamed to say that I do.  I can be reduced to tears over seeing a lonely kid on a playground or a homeless person passed by, but there are just some things I have trouble summoning up compassion for.   I don’t understand why they are making such a big deal of whatever the trouble is.  I don’t understand why they don’t see that there are others out there who have it worse.  I don’t understand, period. 

But does that matter?  We aren’t called to understand WHY someone is hurting. We are called to weep with those who weep.  The verse doesn’t say “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those you can empathize with.”  It doesn’t matter if we think they are being overly dramatic or if we think they are dragging it on too long.  It just doesn’t.   Yes, it’s great if we can empathize with what someone is going through but that shouldn’t determine our ability to show compassion.  It’s our duty to care. 
So there you have it: my reminder to myself to love more and judge less.  Let's get out there and rock the world.   

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fudge time.

I'm back! I took my hardest final this morning in my Exercise Physiology class.  It was a lot easier than I expected (knock on wood!)  So two finals down, two to go.  I have a whole week to study for my physics final so I'm not too worried about it. 

During finals, I don't spend a lot of time studying.  Is that bad?  Maybe.  But by this point in the semester I am burned out and all I want to do is eat, read, and watch movies.  Oh, and sleep.  So I do.  Ice cream and mac n cheese, here I come!!
Squints, much?

Goodbye, study guides!

I won a lb of fudge!

I'll be spending some time with this guy

Book I'm reading now!

Friday, December 7, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Around here, we are getting into the Christmas spirit!  One more week of finals and I will be back in full force!

Don't forget this handsome guy!

Busting out my Christmas-y shirt!



Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Party

Hey ladies! I know I've been MIA this week.  We are getting down to the last weeks of school (TWO WEEKS LEFT!) and things are crazy for me.  I will be pretty busy the next two weeks so bear with me!  Today I'm linking up with some lovely ladies for a Christmas cheer link-party! Whoo hoo!

Who's looking forward to Christmas?? I am!  To get us in the mood today, thought I'd share some of my favorite Christmas songs! Enjoy!

Winter Snow-- By Audrey Assad


Silent Night-- By Taylor Swift

Mistletoe-- By Colbie Caillat

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


It's awkward. Yes, yes, it is.  But everyone's doing it.  And if everyone's doing it, I should be too, right?  So here it is...

my outfit post!

Sweater dress: Old Navy; Scarf: Bath and Body Works; Boots: Famous Footwear; Spoon ring: my ALL TIME favorite piece of jewelry, a gift


Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Day Recap

Look at all this delicious grub! Hope you enjoyed some equally delicious food! 
Yes, those are Cheetos and Gushers.  Sorta a family tradition.  And YES, that is a "Cookie Monster" cake, made by that creative guy down there.  What untraditional foods did you eat this Thanksgiving?

The Chefs

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

An abundance of blessings

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to remember to be thankful.  Thankful for the people in my life, thankful for the food I have every day, thankful for the warm home I live in, thankful for my health.  Thankful that God has given me an opportunity to know Him and contentment that comes from this life.  Thankful for blue skies and sunshine, thankful for rain that waters the earth, thankful for beautiful flowers and fall leaves.   

Thought I’d share with you a lovely little list from here.

I am thankful for…

·        The taxes I pay because it means I am employed

·        The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat

·        A lawn that has to be mowed, windows that have to be cleaned and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home

·        The spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking

·        The lady in church who sings off key because it means I can hear

·        The huge piles of laundry and ironing because it means loved ones are nearby

·        The alarm that goes off in the early morning because it means I am alive

In the stress of day to day life, it is so easy to become too busy to remember all the little things that mean so much.  Let’s take the time to be truly thankful for the gifts we have before it is too late.  Happy, HAPPY Thanksgiving!!

Joyfully yours,


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On being legit.

Let me tell you a little bit about how hardcore I am...

I am taking an exercise physiology class this semester and as part of that class, our lab group had to create our own experiment.  We decided to test the effects of eating different types of carbohydrates on glucose levels during exercise.  Like, running-a-lot type exercise. 

Cool.  However, only two people out of our group had to perform the trial, so I'm home free----- NO, somehow I got roped into doing this stupid experiment.  I'll break it down step by step for you.

Step 1:  I am have to be fasted before the test so I don't get to eat breakfast before I go to class.  I am extremely hungry.

Step 2:  I have to eat a simple sugars as my carbohydrate.  Enter 53 grams of gummy bears.  Yum, yum.  I don't know about you, but I find this pretty appalling to have to eat 53 grams of gummy bears for breakfast and then work out.

Step 3:  RUN.  For 30 minutes.  Hooked up to a headpiece, mouthpiece, and nose clip. While my lab group stares at me.  Ew.

Step 4: Get stabbed in the ear every ten minutes to draw blood for the glucose test.  See below. 

Step 5: Finish 30 minute run.  Begin a 1-mile performance run where I have to run my absolute fastest. Without dying?  Yes. 

Step 6: My fastest was 8 minutes, 20 seconds. That is not very fast. 

Step 7: I think I'm so legit.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Fine Line We Walk.

This week I’ve been reading a lot of bloggers who are saying that the blog world can get to be too much.  And I agree.  I’ve seen a lot of great bloggers get swept away with giveaways and product reviews until I no longer am interested in reading their blog because it’s just about stuff.   It’s just about getting more followers and sponsors.

A quick glance to my followers section shows that this is not the case for me.  And I think:  Why don’t I have more followers?  What can I do to make people like me more?  What can I post here that will make people want to read? Why does everyone else have more followers than me?

Well, I’m asking the wrong question.  If I change my content to get more followers, I’m no longer an honest blogger.  Yes, I do want followers.  Because despite some of the bad aspects, I love the blogging community and there are so many sweet bloggers out there I’d love to get to know more.  I’d like to think that I have something to share that others will care about.  But even if I never get another follower, I want to keep blogging true to myself and my faith.  So thank you to all who have shown me some blog love.  And to all those awesome bloggers that share real stuff every day… you gals are the best!  Keep doing what you’re doing! 

Joyfully yours,


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fall Scrumptiousness

Hey ladies!

Every time I go into Starbucks I am soooo tempted to buy a Pumpkin Scone because I am a huge fan of all things pumpkin.  I haven’t given in yet, but when I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I had to try it.  I made some tonight and they were pretty darn good!  I think you should give ‘em a try!
Pumpkin Scones (originally from here)
2 cups flour
7 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground clove
¼ tsp ground ginger
½ cup canned pumpkin puree
3 TBSP half and half
1 egg
6 TBSP cold butter, cubed


1 cup + 1 TBSP powdered sugar
2 TBSP half and half

In a large food processor combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.  Pulse to combine.  Add cold butter and pulse until well incorporated and mixture is texture of cornmeal. 

In a separate bowl, whisk pumpkin puree, half and half, and egg.  Add to flour mixture and pulse until combined.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface (my dough was extremely sticky at this point, so make sure your surface and rolling pin are well floured) and gently knead 4 or 5 times to bring dough together.  Flatten into 1” thick circle.  Using a pizza cutter, cut in half and then in thirds.

Place wedges onto greased baking sheet and bake at 425o for 14-16 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove to cooling rack.

Once cool, whisk together glaze and spoon on top.  Let harden for at least an hour. 

Sounds delish?  I think so!

Joyfully yours,



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Apple Hill Part 1 Vs. Part 2

Apple Hill is a lovely place near me where there are lots of apple farms, apple picking, apple desserts, craft fairs, and fudge.  Did I mention desserts?  Oh yeah. 
Part 1:
Beks and I go to Apple Hill.  We get the worst chicken sandwiches ever.  It starts to rain hard.  They are out of apple dumplings, apple turnovers, apple fritters AND apple pie.  (How is that even possible??)  It starts to snow.  We go home and drown our sorrows in a giant bowl of popcorn and movie. 

We were making fun of "pie" candles
... Until the owner came along.  Then things got serious.
Pouting about snow.

Part 2:
The weather is beautiful. I go to Apple Hill with my mom, Colton and Melissa.  They are still out of apple dumplings and turnovers, but I get a slice of apple pie with cider sauce.  That's all I ask of you, Apple Hill.

Oh, and here's hoping that you had a great holiday weekend!
Joyfully yours,


Friday, November 9, 2012

The Running Dream

I will admit that I have a love/hate relationship with running.  And when I say that, I basically mean that I love stopping and hate starting.  When I finish running, I know I have just done one of the hardest things I will do all day.  I have a thing for challenges, so I have been running for several years.   And right now you are thinking, “So what?”
The “so what” is:  I just read this book for teens and was pleasantly surprised at the message.  In a sentence, it’s about a runner (Jessica) who, against all odds, learns to run with a prosthetic after having her leg amputated.  OKAY, so I’m not very good at book reviews cause I just made that sound totally lame.
The gist of it is:  it made me really appreciate running.  Because the coolest thing about running is that I can.  I am healthy and strong, thanks be to God.  My legs carry me through even when I don’t want to go another step.   So when Jessica says, “I ran everywhere.  Raced everywhere.  I loved the wind across my cheeks, through my hair.  Running aired out my soul.  It made me feel alive.  And now? I’m stuck in this bed, knowing I’ll never run again,” let’s remember that we have a lot to be thankful for.  We never know when something will crash into our lives, changing everything, so let’s appreciate it before it’s gone. 

Lastly, I want to share with you another quote from this book. 

“It’s disturbing how fast weeds take root in my garden of worthiness.

They’re so hard to pull.

And grow back so easily.”

Stop and think about how profound that is.  Even though God tell us we are His precious children, we let others strip away our self-worth.  We let what they think define who we are, instead of letting God define us.  We need to stop that cycle now.