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!