Happy Birthday to Me, Because of You. My Priceless Gift.

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Homemade Honey Mustard Dressing {In a jiffy}

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honeymustard

I’m all about short cuts, you know I am. But for some reason or the other, I prefer homemade dressings over store bought. When I make baked chicken fingers and certain salads, I whip up this simple yet delicious dressing in a jiffy! My family rants and raves over it and I laugh because it is just so easy to make. In fact, I have never even measured the ingredients when I’ve made it- it is just that simple. I hope your family enjoys this staple recipe!

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Mix together 1/2 cup mayo, 1/4 cup of mustard and 1/4 cup honey. Add salt and pepper to taste!

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Adults and kiddos alike love this as a dipping sauce for baked chicken fingers!

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Homemade Honey Mustard Dressing {In a jiffy}
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup mayo
  • ¼ cup of mustard
  • ¼ cup honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste!
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!

 

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Corn for a Crowd

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My dear friend Mem introduced me to this excellent tip on how to cook corn for a crowd. This is a great recipe for gatherings, picnics, pot-lucks, baseball games, etc., because of the ease of transporting it.

I don’t know about you, but I feel that the hardest aspect of cooking for large groups is the timing. It can get difficult making sure side dishes are prepared when the main dish is finished. Add this to the menu for one of your sides because it’s foolproof!

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Husk and wash your corn on the cobb, then place them in a large cooler. Cover them with boiling water, then shut the lid.

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30 mins later, you have the easiest “corn for a crowd” you’ve ever made. Thanks, Mem!

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Living Life with God’s Power and Tools

Living Life with God's Power and Tools

Living Life with God's Power and Tools

People who don’t know me would never know it. I’m very easy going and free spirited, actually. 

In fact, most people who struggle with anxiety hide it pretty well. They tend to be the ones who are very “put together”.

They’re the happy, helping, volunteering, cooking, cleaning, working, mending, smiling, taxi-ing, calling, texting-to-check-in, dressed-perfectly kind of people. The types who hate making waves. The ones who seek peace in all circumstances for fear of conflict. Often times, these folks are very well-liked and if by slight chance they aren’t, realistically it’s because someone is jealous of them. Because they’re picture-perfect right?

Ohhhh, no.

Let me tell you the truth about “my kind”.

Our outer appearance typically lacks balance with our internal struggle.

For some odd reason, us anxiety- prone people also tend to be “taker on-ers”. Don’t ask me why, we just are.

It could be our pride, people-pleasing attributes, irrational fear, false guilt, or whatever the case, our lives can get pretty heavy in an instant. We pile “yeses” on top of “yeses” out of an unbalanced mix of genuine concern and fear. Fear that we aren’t good enough, that we might hurt someone’s feelings, or fear we may look bad if we don’t overachieve.

The very thing that makes us anxious-having too much on our plate, is the very thing we do to ourselves-sign up for everything under the sun.

On top of all of that, we add a heaping second helping of fear to all that we avoid or anything that could happen. After all, this world is a scary place. This isn’t our home!  

Why, dear friends, do we give so much power to anxiety? And if you don’t want to label it anxiety…why do we give so much power to people, or to our circumstances, or to fear?

God’s word says in 2 Timothy 1:7:

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

 

This means that whatever fears we are facing, whenever we are anxious, or whatever irrational thoughts we might have they are simply not from God. How do I know this? His words says so. He does not give us the spirit of fear.

But, what He does give us are extremely valuable tools-

Power.
Love.
A Sound Mind.

Do these words stabilize you as much as they do me? You see, these tools need to be used in order for them to be useful. If we hand over these tools for anxiety, worry, and fear, our jobs are not going to be done. God’s work will be done, it just won’t be done though us- someone else will be willing. We may look as though we’re busy, but honestly we are creating wreckage. There’s only so much that wreckage can do and only so long wreckage can go on.

Our power? Gone.
Our love? Gone.
Our sound mind? Out the window.
We loose it.
We simply cannot function the way God wills us to function if we hand over these gifts for wreckage!

Ladies, I encourage you right now to write down the name of someone or something you are handing over power to in your life.

It may be a person you’re avoiding, therefore you’ve rerouted your daily living so not to run into this person. Stop it. Live your life with God’s power and tools. 

Are you afraid to fly? Has this fear blocked you from traveling to your dream destination, visiting family from afar, or taking that missions trip you so desperately want to go on? Stop it. While I can validate your fear, I can also validate the chances of anything happening to you are very slim and are not worth living in fear over. Live your life with God’s power and tools.  

What about relationships? Have you been so emotionally wounded that you’ve surrounded yourself with walls, even blocking out Jesus? Did I just say Jesus? Yes, I did. Often times when people are hurting, they even shut out Jesus. Stop it. I get it, I’ve been hurt as well, but in order to make an eternal impact on those around you, you’ve got to let those walls come down and let love cover. You’re going to get hurt, plain and simple. Live your life with God’s power and tools. 

Anxiety. If we give it power, it will take it. The key is to accept the power God gives us through His spirt and to stop giving power to our emotions. 

I will leave you with this biblical truth:

“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. ” ~2 Corinthians 10:5

Anxiety gets its power from our obedience to it. Let’s give God his power back in our lives. Let’s live our lives with God’s power and tools.

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He Goes Before Us.

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3 questions-6

“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” ~Deuteronomy 31:8

The weather was beautiful- a perfect day to go boating.

My children had never been boating before- let alone tubing, but today was the day. Our friends invited us out for an eventful afternoon of wind-seeking and water-splashing adventure -we were thrilled to live it up.

Our son was first to go – he nodded excitedly as the “Captain” explained the hand motions of tubing. “Thumbs up if you want to go faster, O.K. hand gesture if you want to live right there, and cut throat if you want to stop.”

Got it?
Got it.

Away our son fell into the tube with his bigger-than-life -vest on and an anticipatory smile that became infectious to the entire crew.

And off we went. A jerk of the rope and watchful eyes.

His thumb was sky-high, that smile was glued on, it was smooth and speedy sailing the entire time.

After about 15 mins, our daughter asked if she could have a turn. So, we cut throat and reeled our son in and sent out our youngest on her way.

Again, a jerk of the rope, watchful eyes, a huge smile and off we went.

Thumb up.

I sat next to the “Captain” and giggled “She still has her thumb up, she wants to go faster.” He replied, “Oh, I know she does but there are some boats up ahead making some waves – I don’t want her to get knocked off, I’m going to keep it right here.”

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I turned my head back to her and smiled adoringly.  Her grimacing water-sprayed face and her little thumb sticking up, just waiting for more speed upon request. However, that request was not going to be fulfilled.

Easy, girl. We’re going to live right here for now. “The Captain” sees something you do not.

Amazing how God speaks to us when we least expect it.

I wonder how many times I’ve had my thumbs up and ready to go, while God- seeing something that I couldn’t , said “No. Live right here.”

But, he answered that prayer for others? I don’t understand.

I bet that’s exactly how our daughter felt when saw her brother go before her and had smooth sailing with this thumbs-up request answered.

I wonder how many times I’ve been disappointed when I see other’s prayers being answered, but my prayers weren’t, only to have been protected by the hands of my Lord… my Captain, who promises to go before me.

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Strawberry-Orange Water

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Hi Ladies, the other day I posted on the Comfy FB page that I’ve been having a hard time drinking enough water. Many days than I care to admit I drink more coffee and diet pop than I do water. This has to stop.

Not too long ago when I was a guest at my sister-in-law’s house, she had this refreshing strawberry-orange infused water sitting out -I literally drank 4 glasses in a row because it was so delicious.

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That’s all that it is…sliced oranges, sliced strawberries, water and ice. I recently started making this in a large water pitcher so to add more water into my daily routine.

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Ahhh…

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When I was browsing the web, I realized Bembu also shares many more infused-water recipes that help not only with hydration, but also with detoxing! Place infused water in mason jars with lids to have refreshing and healthy drink options readily available in your fridge!

Here’s a quick video from the Doc that I’d like to share about how much water we should be drinking. Gulp. He even mentions for us to try to water our plants with coffee and see what happens. That put things into perspective for me and encouraged me to drink more H2O!


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Drink up! 

Dear Lord, Thank you for supplying so many of us with water in abundance. I  know that I personally take this for granted. In turn, many people in third world nations have to walk miles in dangerous terrain to get a bucket full of unsanitary water. Please help us, in fortunate places, see how blessed we truly are and give us the means to help those who don’t have water that is easily accessible. In Jesus name, Amen. 

 

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Taco Tuesday Meal Ministry

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One of my children’s favorite dinner-nights-of-the-week is “Taco Tuesdays”. This particular night we decided to bless an additional family with a meal ministry and made a little extra. It was a very simple way not only to provide a meal, but love and care for a family that has been hurting.

I pray you will take this idea and make “Taco Tuesday” a fun day for your family and a family in need as well.
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Ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning. I also use ground turkey for a healthier choice.

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Shredded cheese and lettuce in ziplock bags…

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Homemade salsa is such a treat.

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Meal ministry has to have a dessert, right? Especially if there are kiddos involved.

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Add tortillas and chips and you’re off to fiesta!

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One thing I’ve learned about meal ministry is to always- I mean always– make the same meal I have made for others, for my own family. I want my family to know that they are my priority, yet it is so important to be the hands and feet of Christ for others.

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Grilled Pocket Potatoes

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This quick, easy and delicious way to prepare red potatoes on the grill will leave you feeling spoiled!  Side dishes, especially potatoes, can take a while to cook or bake… but not these spuds. Keep this recipe in your back pocket! It’s a keeper.

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Quarter red potatoes and lay a handful on a square of foil. Dot with butter and sprinkle with dry Italian dressing mix. Close up pockets tightly and grill on medium heat for 20 mins, turning half way through.

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The outcome? Perfectly grilled and seasoned potatoes (with an oven to spare for other sides or desserts). Enjoy!

Grilled Pocket Potatoes
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 12 Red potatoes
  • 1 Stick of butter, sliced
  • 1-2 Pouches Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix
  • 6 Squares of foil for making pockets
Instructions
  1. Wash and quarter potatoes placing about 2 potatoes each on foil squares.
  2. Dot with butter and sprinkle with seasoning.
  3. Close tightly and place pockets on grill for 10 mins, flip then 10 mins more.

 

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Renewing Our Minds

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Renew Your Mind-4

Hi Ladies,

I have a very special guest today who shares my love for meal ministry. Katie never ceases to amaze me with her love for the Lord and for those around her. She has used her testimony to introduce others to Christ and to encourage them to lead healthier lives by offering healthier alternatives. She has such a contagious smile and welcoming demeanor. If you don’t know her already, I have a feeling you will love her just as much as I do.

Katie says:

The Bible tells us in Romans 12:2 that we should not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but that we should be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

When I began to apply the truths of this powerful scripture to my own life, I finally began to see true transformation that turned my life around. I went from living a life that was bound and limited, to one that was free from the restrictions that once held me back.

If you are desiring a transformation in any area of your life, I would encourage you to begin by asking yourself three general questions.

1. First, ask yourself the question: How do you see yourself?

The Bible says in Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” This means that it doesn’t matter how much we try to change the outside, what we believe about ourselves and how we see ourselves on the inside will ultimately be what we become on the outside.

I would encourage you to start this journey by getting alone with God, and ask Him to show you any areas that you may be believing lies and to help you see yourself as He sees you!

2. How do we begin to see ourselves as God sees us?

In order to start to see ourselves as God sees us, we have to start to reading and trusting what God says about us in His Word. A great place to start is Ephesians 2:10, which says, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” This means that God created each one of us with a unique purpose! Even more specifically, God gave each one of us gifts, talents, and strengths to fulfill this purpose.

I would encourage you to start asking yourself; What are your God-given gifts and strengths? For example, do you have a servant’s heart? Are you compassionate? Are you an encourager? Begin by asking the Lord to show you the things that He has placed on the inside of you that make you special and unique. Write these things down and choose to focus on these things daily.

Ask the Lord to develop these qualities within you and to give you the desire to bless others with them. When you start to focus on living your life to bless others with your God given gifts, I can promise you that you will begin to see the world around you through God’s eyes and it will take your eyes off any negative thought pattern that used to plaque you. Not only that, but you will begin to leave a lasting impression on others and impact those around you in a powerful way!

3. How do we transform our minds with God’s Word?

Joshua 1:8 says, “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” If we want to be transformed from the inside out, this scripture tells us that the most important thing we could do is spend time in God’s Word every day and to do what it says! This doesn’t mean that we can read the Bible once a week or once every few days and expect to be radically changed. The key word in Joshua 1:8 is continually!

We can see in the second part of this passage that we are to meditate in the Word day and night. The meditate means to think upon, or to ponder. When we spend time reading the Bible each morning, we can pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help us stay focused on the truths of those scriptures all throughout the day, which is actually a form of meditation! Not only will this type of meditation lead to true peace and joy, but it will bring you to a place where you will find true transformation that comes from the inside out.

A renewed mind brings transformation!

Renewing your mind is certainly a process, and it generally takes a period of time to uproot lies and plant the truth of God’s Word… But when you do, there is a transformation that takes place that is so beautiful and freeing!

A renewed mind also doesn’t mean a life free from problems or negative thoughts… we are all bound to have days where the enemy will try to come back and tempt us with lies. The difference, however, will be that we will be able to recognize the lies and combat them with the truths of God’s word, which means we won’t fall prey to the same deceptions that we used to!

One thing is for sure, in this life we will all face trials, but when we surrender them to the Lord, He can take our broken hearts, thoughts, and lives, and transform them into something beautiful!

Prayer for a transformed mind:

“Father, I pray that you would search my heart and mind and show me any area that is not in agreement with what you say about me in your Word. Help me to see the gifts and strengths are that you have placed on the inside of me, and help me to use them for your glory. I pray that as I study your Word that it would come alive to me, and that you would help me to find truths that would replace any lies that I have been believing. I pray for your Spirit to strengthen me, and to help me discern any lies that would come at me from the enemy and to replace them with your truth. Lord, I ask that you would transform me from the inside out, and that you would help me to become all that you created me to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Katie-Farrell-Dashing-Dish-Blog
Katie Farrell is the founder of Dashing Dish, a website that provides delicious healthy alternatives for the foods you crave. Katie is also a Christian wife, a licensed nurse, and the author of  the books Dashing Dish and Devotions for a Healthier You. For more about her story, please visit her here.

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10 Thoughtful Meal Ministry Ideas

10 Thoughtful Meal Ministry Ideas

10 Thoughtful Meal Ministry Ideas 

 

There’s no doubt that meal ministry is a blessing.

I’ve seen the look of gratitude from the eyes of many new moms, those who are mourning, those who are healing…and those who Just. Need. A. Break.

Making someone a meal is faith in action, it’s loving, it’s helpful, and it’s healing. My heart’s deepest desire-and I know yours is as well,  is to find ways to serve these special individuals in the best way possible…so that the blessing of a meal is truly a blessing. Let me explain…

Here are 10 Thoughtful Meal Ministry Ideas… to bless them best

1. Ask Questions! If you are heading up a “Take Them a Meal” schedule, be very specific in your instructions at the top of the invite. Make sure to ask the family if they have allergies, are on a certain diet, their likes, and dislikes. You certainly don’t want to make a peanut butter pie for a family with a child who has a peanut allergy. Now, this would be with very good intentions, but in the end not the blessing you wanted them to have.

2. Schedule Meals Every Other Day -After years of planning meals, I’ve noticed a common thread…”Janelle, I appreciate these meals so much, but can you change delivery to every other day instead of every day? My refrigerator is overflowing with leftovers that we have not had enough time to eat”. When our family experienced a death, my friend Katina set up a Take them a Meal asking me what dates we would be home and how many meals we needed during that time. It was so helpful and appreciated. 

3. Use Throw-Away Containers: Your recipient will be so relieved he/she doesn’t have to clean-up and find you later to return your dish {I recommend Chinet Bakeware!}. Not long ago one of my friends mentioned she had a huge “lost and found”pile of dishes. She was going through way too much in life to remember who they belonged to and felt bad she couldn’t return them. If you do, by chance, have to make and take in a dish you need back, put your name on it and let your recipient know he/she can leave it on his/her porch the next day and you will pick it up.  

4. Offer Your Recipient “Cooler Service”: Families in mourning might prefer to set a cooler outside their front door for meals to be placed in rather than to answer the door.  There are times in our lives when we are struggling so badly, we have no conversation to offer…or when we just don’t have the energy to clean our home and opening it up to a stranger {or even someone we know} is embarrassing.

5. Ask Your Recipient If They Would Rather Have “Take-Out”: Some people are stand- offish about eating food made by someone they don’t know. That’s okay! I would much rather know that so I can bless them in a way they want to be blessed! It’s not about me! Gift cards are also very much appreciated.

This option is great for long-distance meal ministries as well. I will never forget dear Adina from TTAM sending me a meal even though she lives miles away. Find out where your recipient lives and google delivery services around them. Or, you can use services such as A Bowl of Good

6. Ask Your Recipient If They Would Prefer Freezer Meals: Good stress is still stress…when a new mom is nursing and the door bell is ringing, it can be pretty stressful! Delivering a freezer meal ahead of time {a week before the due date} gives a new mom comfort in knowing a meal is available, but she doesn’t have to open her home to guests if she’s trying to get acclimated with her baby’s routine. 

7. Order a Pizza on a Friday Night! Friday nights are our family’s fun nights! I remember coming home with our 3rd baby and a sweet neighbor ordered us a pizza and made us dessert. When my dear mother-in-law passed away this year, Courtney  was so thoughtful to send our family a gift card for pizza. Again, it was such a blessing for me not to have to cook and it was a fun Friday night meal. (BTW, pizza is my favorite meal-it honestly is.) 

8. Add a Tidbit Tray For the Week:  When you deliver a meal, add cut up fruits, veggies, meats and cheeses in a separate container. This will be a convenient treat for the family to snack on throughout the week {Thanks to my friend Melissa for this tip}.


{Tip: Send along a “Tidbit Tray” for a week of healthy snacks!}

9. Add a Breakfast Casserole: This Fall, when my husband had surgery, a dear friend of mine Jennifer, brought me delicious soup for dinner and made me a breakfast casserole to have the next morning. That meant 2 meals were covered for my family! Wohoo! Such a great idea.

10. Make a “Grown-Up Meal and a Kid’s Meal“: It happens in a lot of families…the kids don’t have the same taste buds as the adults do. I do this especially when a child is the focus of the meal ministry…what child doesn’t smile when he sees dirt pudding?

Thank you to all of you who pour your hearts, time and energy into making meals for those who need them. When I wrote this post I kept thinking of the familiar quote “Good, Better, Best..never let it rest, until your good is better and your better is best”. All meal ministries are  a “good thing”, but being sensitive to our recipients needs will take our ministry from better to best.

Thanks again and keep serving, my Friends!
Love to you, Janelle

P.S. What are some helpful ideas that you have to share? I would love to hear them.

 

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Just Show Up

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3 questions-5

Hi Ladies, this post is very near and dear to my heart. Please welcome my friend, Melissa and her very touching post.

Melissa writes:

We’ve all seen them in our facebook newsfeed…

Heartbreaking posts from someone who has lost a loved one or diagnosed with cancer or enduring financial hardship, or painful divorce…the list goes on. And as women, we deeply desire to comfort these broken hearts through words.

But can I honestly say, there is one repeated comment I see on facebook…over and over again. I cringe when I see it. And then I cringe again.

“Let me know if you need anything.”

Just typing it makes me squeamish.

Have I ever told a hurting person this in the past? Unfortunately yes. But I have learned through my own trials a better way to comfort.

Three years ago, I was struggling through one of the worst times of my life. (details for a future post) I was physically, mentally, and emotionally unable to function. Going down to a weight of 100 pounds, I had to take a 4 month sabbatical from my counseling job and was unable to care for my 3 small children without constant outside help from family and friends.

For a high functioning, dependable woman who had worked since 11 years old, I can not begin to express how painfully discouraging my inability to quickly “pick myself” up was at this point.

On a Saturday afternoon I was staring out my window, (I did a lot of staring those days) I watched an unrecognized car pull in my driveway. It was Sherry, our secretary, who lived in the town nearby. When I opened the door she lovingly explained, “Melissa, I was out picking blueberries with my grandchildren and I wanted to bring some to you for your kids. They are already washed.”

They were already washed.

Tears are running down my face as I type– thinking about that white colander of washed berries, ready to set on my table for my children to eat. Because of my health, standing at my kitchen sink washing fruit was a chore…yes a chore. I am sure there many of you that can relate. So those washed blueberries were very meaningful to this mama.

That life touching experience taught me a very significant life lesson….
JUST SHOW UP.

Too many times, we wait for a struggling person to ask for help. They may need someone to help put laundry away or take their children for a few hours so they can rest. Unfortunately, their mental and physical energy may be too low to be able assign us to these needed tasks. Or they may not want to feel like a burden or even know what they need. That’s why we just have to SHOW UP, look around and offer to do what’s needed without being asked.

Are there some people who are very private and possibly offended by help? Yes. And we want to respect their boundaries.

But who could seriously be angry at a plate of brownies or a pot of soup? My bet–they’ll be grateful.

Here are some simple ways to help a struggling person in their day-to-day life.

  • Take them a meal- it doesn’t have to be fancy!
  • Drop off some groceries
  • Walk their dog
  • Take their kids for a few hours
  • Cut their grass or weed flower beds
  • Fold laundry
  • Clean dishes in their sink
  • Offer to run errands for them
  • Drop off a cup of their favorite coffee
  • Make a fruit and veggie tray for their kids.

I know this post is not necessarily about overcoming a specific hardship. But I hope this post can offer to each of you a purpose in your suffering–to learn how to comfort others. (2 Cor 1:4, Gal. 6:2)

Please share any additional ideas how to help others or even share with us how someone “showed up” for you.

Melissa

10857878_10152779535981645_5899787544918077_nMelissa is a Christian, a Pastor’s wife, a homeschool momma of three beautiful children and a Licensed Counselor. Her greatest joy is to spread the Gospel of Jesus and share His love by comforting others… in her job and every day life.

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3 Questions to Help Calm the Chaos

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“When my world is shaking, heaven stands. When my heart is breaking.
I never leave your hands.” ~ JJ Heller

Chaos. It can come on strong and can even take us under if we let it.

The truth is that the very definition of chaos- utter confusion and disorder, is the exact opposite of who Our Lord is. 1 Corinthians 14:33 states:

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

Dear Sister, let’s combat this issue together with God’s word. When I feel chaos coming I ask myself these very questions and I challenge you to do the same.

1. Is What I’m Worried About Rational?

“But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.”
~2 Timothy 2:23

I don’t know about you, but there have been many times when I’ve become consumed with “what- if thinking”. My mind can brilliantly take me to imaginary places where I don’t belong, places God warns me about in His Word. Borrowed troubles that I just don’t have the mental capacity to adopt, mainly because they just weren’t meant for me. Have you done this too? If so, ask yourself if it is a reasonable concern. Is there evidence that I need to take this on in my life? Am I speculating or am I facing the facts? Cut out anything that does not need to be there.

2. What Can I Take Off My Plate?

“If the Lord does not build a house, then those who build it work in vain.”
~Psalm 127

The epidemic of “yes” when we should have said “let me pray about it” or perhaps even a straight out “no, thank you” is running rampant. Often times what we need to take off our plates is something we should have never scooped up and dished on to begin with. It’s ok to say no. It’s also ok to be honest and let others know that you took on too much and need to step back.

Life will still go on if you aren’t able to be a room mom, or make homemade meals every night or if you need to live out of your laundry baskets until your children are 18.

Keep in mind that the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). Anything that threatens your fruit, isn’t fruit! If adding one more thing to your list causes you to loose it- it’s a weed in disguise. 

 

3. Where Do My Boundaries Need Established?

“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” Mark 1:35-38

It’s a beautiful and encouraging thought to know that even Jesus had to set boundaries in order to do what he was set out to do. So often I am reminded that I need to “bring it on in”. My boundaries can seemingly extend from the Mid-West to the Middle East. It just isn’t what God wants here. I am not made to be a very wide and walked on doormat, I am made to be a vessel.

This is something that many in ministry struggle with, and is often times the culprit for “burn out.” If I am thinking rationally, I know that that if my boundaries aren’t clear in my own mind, they aren’t going to be clear in anyone else’s.

When my boundaries are wide, I make myself an open target for chaos.

Again, bring it in, Sister. Draw a line in the sand and stick to it, by doing this it will do you and everyone around you a favor. In turn, “Burn out” does nothing for anyone.

Dear friends, I hope and pray that by asking yourselves these questions you can be released from some of the bondage of chaos and go on living a life of freedom. Remember, if you are living in chaos -it is not God’s will. We live in a fallen world, but take heart that wherever you are, no matter what you’re going through, our Savior is the Prince of Peace and He is always with you.

But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”
~Matthew 14:30-32

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5 Simple Ways to Manage Stress

Woman looks at colorful light reflections over the lake waters

Woman looks at colorful light reflections over the lake waters

Hi Ladies, we have a special guest today! Katina will be talking about something I know many of us struggle with…stress. It can come on quickly and keep us captive for a lot longer than we want, can’t it? Here are some ways to help manage it when it creeps up on us…please welcome my dear friend, Katina.

Katina Writes:

Stress.

We all know that word.

Some people know it a little more than others. But in the end, we’ve all experienced some degree of stress at different points in our lives. Some days I am able to diffuse it better than others. But then there are the days where the stress is so great that I feel like someone literally set a one-hundred pound weight on my shoulders. There was one particular day recently where I had completely come undone because I had allowed the stress of the previous two weeks to accumulate. I woke up that morning with such a heavy spirit. And then my day started unraveling before me…and it just got worse and worse. I came to a point where I was not liking my behavior….and I knew in that moment that I had a choice.

Do I continue on with this stress and negativity—or do I think about ways that I can get out of this whirlwind of emotions that has pulled me under?

I took a deep breath and made a decision to not let this stress control me any longer. These are the five things that I chose to do in that moment, and….wow…they powerfully transformed my heart and my mind.

 

  1. Ask someone for prayer and encouragement. This might be one of the hardest things to do because it requires vulnerability. You also have to be wise with who you ask because you don’t want that person to “add fuel to the fire”. When someone is interceding for you and giving you encouraging words and verses…it is so very, very powerful.   “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” ~James 5:16

 

  1. Spend time in His Word. We all know that we should be doing this, but sometimes, our emotions and stresses are so high that we feel very frazzled and don’t know what to read in that moment. That’s okay. Don’t wait until you are feeling calm to open up your bible. Come as you are. He will guide you and speak to your heart. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” ~Matthew 11:28

 

  1. Get on your knees and talk to Him. Call out to God in prayer…ask Him to change your heart and your attitude. He loves you so very much. “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” ~1 Peter 5:7

 

  1. Put on praise and worship music. Ohh, this is so very powerful and transforms my attitude almost immediately. I use the Pandora app on my phone and have it set to the praise and worship radio station so that I can access it pretty quickly. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him; bless his name.” ~Psalm 100:4

 

  1. Choose an activity that will calm your spirit. We all have different activities that help us to de-stress. Some people enjoy exercising; some enjoy making crafts….for me, it is a hot bubble bath. Whatever it is, choose something that will help to relax your body. “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” ~Psalm 23:2-3

 

Friends, there will be stressful moments where we don’t have the time to do all of these, and that’s okay. Choose one or two of them, or whatever is fitting to your situation. Once you start doing these actions more consistently, you will be able to diffuse your stress and it will become a natural response!

 

Blessings~

Katina

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Katina is a Christian wife, mom and licensed nurse. Her ministry is event planning for her church and other christian organizations and blogs. Additionally, you can find her sharing encouraging posts, crafting ideas and organizational tips here on Finding Comfort at Comfy in the Kitchen.

 

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Breakfast Banana Splits

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One of my children’s favorite things to order at the old fashioned ice cream parlor downtown is a banana split. There’s something in the name that brings a joyful mood, isn’t there? And better yet- there are some healthy things going on in that sundae!


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Yesterday morning, I decided it was time to make this naturally gluten-free treat into a breakfast dish.  Good golly did it go over well. The kiddos were SO excited to see this concoction when they woke up!

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Simply slice a banana lengthwise, add strawberry yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, a handful of granola (GF if you are sneezy) and melt 2 Tbsp of peanut butter and drizzle.

Fruit-check. Protein-check. Dairy-check. Carbs-check. Deliciousness-double check.

Glutenous-Minimus? Check!

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It called for a breakfast picnic.

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Mission accomplished.

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Breakfast Banana Splits
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Prep time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 4 bananas
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup strawberry yogurt
  • 1 cup granola (GF or not)
  • 2 Tbsp melted peanut butter
Instructions
  1. Slice bananas lengthwise
  2. Spoon on yogurt to each one
  3. Top with blueberries, strawberries and granola.
  4. Drizzle with melted peanut butter

 

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When I Forgot to Share The Gospel

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Gospel

Ohhhh, Friends. Isn’t it in the smallest things that we find the greatest “ah haa moments” ?

Just yesterday, I asked my son to clean his room. As most ten year olds do, he bantered back and forth with me, “Maaaaaa, it’s summmmmer”, and “Maaaa, I cleaned my room yesterday!” Finally, when I mentioned the upcoming consequence, he begrudgingly ran upstairs, shut the door, and from my knowledge did what he was supposed to do.

About an hour later, I heard him running down the stairs and in all excitement, approached me with his hand outstretched and a smile on his face… “Mom, look at what I made for you!”

Lo and behold there it was- a marvelously handmade “Starburst ” rainbow loom bracelet that he had been trying to master for weeks. First, I told him how beautiful it was and thanked him, then I walked up the stairs, opened up his door, and peered into a room that hadn’t been cleaned.

I yelled down to my son, and asked him to come upstairs. I questioned him why he didn’t clean up his room, like I had asked. He replied, “Mom, I was too busy making you a bracelet.” I looked at him and said, “Grant, I love that you made me this bracelet, but you weren’t obedient to what I wanted you to do. You served me the way you wanted to serve me, rather than doing what I asked.”

Then I stopped dead in my tracks.

How many times have I served God the way I wanted, rather than the way He wanted?

The last thing I want to do is to enter heaven to have God say,

“Janelle, that was a delicious meal you made for your neighbors, but did you share with them the Gospel with them?”

“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’ ” ~Mark 16:15

I can think of a ton of other ways I have served the Lord. They are all good, but are they replacing what he has called me to do or are they in addition to what he was called me to do?

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and that is a gift of God- not by works so that no one can boast.” ~ Ephesians 2:8:9

I will leave you with this….

Jesus Christ lived a sinless life, a life we are all incapable of living. He died for our sins on the cross and rose so that we could have eternal life. All we have to do is admit that we are sinners and put our faith into what He did for us. We will mess up, we will not ever be perfect, nothing we do will ever earn our salvation- just what He did. One day every tongue will confess… He is God.

The Gospel:

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
~
1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Love to you,

Janelle

 

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Orange Creamsicle Floats

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Orange CreamsicleI’ve always wanted to be the house with the ice cold lemonade –the kind in a giant plastic pitcher. The house that greeted children with homemade warm chocolate chip cookies. The house that said “welcome” without having to say a word.

While all of the above have done just fine in the hospitality department, I’ve found a pretty easy way to WOW the “tweens” in my life these days….(goodness, are they growing up).

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and it’s with a simple orange float.

Ya’ve got to make them in mason jars with straws-for some reason they taste better that way. It’s the experience- don’t ask. 

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Mmmm….rich vanilla ice cream.

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topped with Sunkist Orange *pop. It tastes JUST like an orange creamsicle.

*Pop=soda in the Midwest. hehe. Enjoy!!!

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Orange Creamsicle Floats
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 gallon vanilla ice cream
  • 1 2 liter Sunkist Orange Pop
Instructions
  1. Scoop ice cream into mason jars.
  2. Pour orange pop over top.
  3. Insert straw.
  4. Enjoy together!

 

 

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Best Ever Greek Salad with Homemade Citrus Vinaigrette

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It’s the 4th of July and we are headed over to a dear friend’s house (Mem’s) for a picnic! I’m bringing the salad and I must say it looks delicious. My personal favorite, actually. For some reason, I can never pass up a good, fresh, Greek salad- especially with Feta. Everything tastes betta with Feta- wouldn’t you agree?

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Such a lonely dish of Romaine….

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Muuuuuch betta. Hehe.

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Topped with thinly sliced red onion, quartered cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, dried cranberries, Feta cheese and fresh ground pepper.

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The dressing is equal parts of olive oil and apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp lemon zest and the juice from 1 lemon, salt, pepper, garlic powder and 1 Tbsp sugar. I thought I’d show you that I save my Olive Oil jars for homemade dressings, so don’t throw those bottles away! Repurpose!

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Enjoy!

Best Ever Greek Salad with Homemade Citrus Vinaigrette
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Prep time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ Heads Romain - Rinsed, squeezed (get that water out) and torn into bite-sized pieces.
  • ¼ Red onion thinly sliced
  • ½ Cucumber peeled and cut into quarters
  • ½ Cup Cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 Jar Kalamata olives
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 8 oz container Feta cheese
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Dressing:
  • ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp lemon zest, juice from 1 lemon, salt, pepper, garlic powder, 1 Tbsp sugar. Shake it up.
Instructions
  1. Combine all salad ingredients into a 9x13- why? It's just easier to get all the ingredients into one bowl that way. A big salad bowl leaves you with just lettuce at the bottom. Toss with dressing.

 

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Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Brownie Batter Frosting/Brownie Garnish

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I’m going to say it until I’m blue in the face…it’s not the recipe, it’s the memories that go along with the recipe. This particular recipe brings a smile to my face because it was shared celebrating with friends who I don’t get to see very often. These women strengthen me, make me laugh, keep me grounded, and they like to eat cupcakes. I like women to say yes to dessert, you know what I’m talking about- I know you do.

So we had a bloggy conference a couple weeks ago and it happened to be our dear friend Mandy Young’s birthday. I asked her what her favorite kind of cake was and she said she actually preferred brownies (thata girl) so, as a fan of “Cupcake Wars” I thought I would try to mix the two. But, low and behold there was a recipe out there that did just that- a huge shout out to Your Cup of Cake My friends said these were the best cupcakes they have EVER had! Wohoooo!!!

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I love to “doctor” up cake mixes – the best way to do it is to add sour cream. I knew this recipe was going to be a winner when I saw this method being used. This is 1 box Devil’s Food Cake, 1/2 cup melted butter, 3 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla, 3/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup sour cream and 1 cup mini chocolate chips.

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And a professional stirrer and licker of the bowl.

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As you can see these ingredients instead of using the boxed ingredients make for a denser batter, thus denser cupcake. This is called yum.

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More chocolate= more yum.

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To get your cupcakes portioned evenly, use a cookie scoop. This also helps eliminate any mess spilling onto the cupcake pan.


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Bake in a cupcake pan for approximately 15 mins or until set. Remember, they will continue cooking a couple mins longer. Let cool a couple mins, then place in the refrigerator.

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This homemade brownie batter butter cream is amazing. You make your brownie garnish by making brownies with 1/2 the brownie mix and halving the ingredients of course. Then you take the other half of the mix and mix it right into the frosting.

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It’s butter, brownie mix, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla, milk and powdered sugar that makes this frosting amazing.

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I bought the most beautiful pink color flame candles- I didn’t realize how pretty they would be! And I used cute Wilton flower cupcake cups. Mandy loves her pink! hehe.

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Happy Birthday Dear Friend!!!

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My Buddies from left to right: Katina, Mandy, Summer, Clare, Courtney, Darlene, Ruth and Karen. Love you girls!!! So, here you have it- HERE is the experience….all cuddled up with brownie cupcakes in our bellies and a song in our heart.

It’s such a blessing- that “meal ministry”.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Brownie Batter Frosting/Brownie Garnish
 
Author:
Serves: 24
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 box Devil's Food Cake Mix
  • ½ C. melted butter (or oil)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ C. milk
  • ½ C. sour cream
  • 1 C. mini chocolate chips
  • Brownie Batter Frosting:
  • 1 C. butter, room temperature
  • ½ C. brownie mix, dry (from the box)
  • ⅓ C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. milk, more if needed
  • 2-3 C. powdered sugar
  • Brownie garnish (Make ½ brownie mix according to package instructions) You can either crumble the brownies and place on top, or cut a small brownie and place on top. Your choice.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl add cake mix, melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract, milk and sour cream. Mix well.
  3. Stir in mini chocolate chips.
  4. Fill cupcake liners ¾ full with a cookie dough scoop. Bake for about 15 mins.
  5. Let cool and place in refrigerator
  6. Brownie Batter Frosting: Beat butter. Add brownie mix, cocoa powder, vanilla and milk and beat again. Slowly add in powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. You can add more milk if it becomes too thick, but remember the butter in the frosting will soften even more, so a little thick isn't a bad thing.
  7. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and top with brownie pieces and sprinkles.

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Amazing… what a little time with friends can do.

A picture of four friends enjoying their time in spa with facial masks over white background

Part of a new series under “Finding Comfort” @ Comfy in the Kitchen. 

A picture of four friends enjoying their time in spa with facial masks over white background

One of my very dear friends paid me a visit just the other day. She’s the kind of friend who always fills my soul with joy. Each time we’re together I leave her feeling better having just been around her. Jesus talk. Bantering, belly laughing, and making light. That’s what we do.

So, the other day were outside just rocking on the front porch, talking. Of course, bird watching was also involved- it’s a favorite past time of mine and she bears with me. She turned to me and said,

“Nelle, I’ve been a little distant lately and I want to apologize. I’ve been pouring myself out so much to everyone that I just don’t have a lot left these days. I feel like I have nothing else to give.”

At that moment, I could tell by the look on her face how unnecessarily insecure she felt as a friend. But, the thought never came to my mind that she was being distant. So, I told her the truth.

“You don’t have to do anything for me, solve any of my problems, or help me in any way. Just sitting here on the porch with me and laughing about nothing at all is more than enough.”

She makes me feel “comfy in my skin”. Whatever’s going on- It’s all good. I’m still me. 

So often we want to fix things for others, don’t we? When we have a friend who’s in a crisis we tend to gravitate our conversations to the very problem that they might want to detach themselves from. Even if it’s just for a little while- an escape.

Sometimes people who are struggling feel like an elephant in the room and sometimes the very best thing a friend can do for them is just… normalize.

Just be.

So, anyways- after this dear friend left, she called me and told me she left something on the rocking chair outside. I opened the door and there was a white box and a card. The card read…

“Everyone in life should have 2 things: 1. True Friends 2. An emergency chocolate stash.”

That “Do-Gooder” ! She totally ruined my story on just being.

Eh hem…as I was saying.

Ladies, today I just want to encourage you to simply sit beside someone. It truly is amazing what a little time with friends can do.

“Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 1:4

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Ice Cream Ministry

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Every time we would go over to “Grandma Puppies” house, she would make sure to make the kids an ice cream cone…that was the first thing they would say as they’d run through her doors. “Grandma! Can we have an ice cream cone?!” She’d smile real big, laugh and say, ” Ohhh alright let’s go upstairs and you know the drill.” And they did. They would climb up the counter to get the sprinkles on the top shelf, then reach up into the freezer and get all three flavors out {she always bought them their individual favorites}, then they would open up the refrigerator to get out the whipped cream, syrup, and the cherries. The only things grandma would get were the cones and the “surprise” that went at the bottom. That surprise was a big deal….would it be a gum ball? M & M’s? Hmmmm…..you’d have to eat the whole ice cream cone to find out.

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In this photo, my dear mother-in-law would pass away in just 4 months from stage 4 breast cancer -a battle she fought for 6 years. It was extremely painful for her to walk and she needed assistance to get up the stairs – but it didn’t matter to her. She would have ran a marathon if it meant putting a smile on her grandchildren’s faces.

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She was pretty good at putting smiles on their faces….

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So, I write this with tears streaming down my face…
Fast forward 4 months and we all staying at a beautiful and loving hospice facility. She was in one room, we were in a suite down the hall. What rolls up? These amazing volunteers with an ice cream buffet. Our kids RAN into grandma’s room to tell them the great news. It was so special….words can’t even describe how special. Once again, ice cream placed a smile on our little girl’s face even amidst tragedy.

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These sweet people thought of everything and were so full of joy to give. They told me they did this every Tuesday for the guests and their families.

What a ministry….ice cream.

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Mini Meatloaf (Even more marvelous)

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One of my children’s favorite meals is meatloaf– and let me tell you, it just got better. My dear mom bought me this mini-loaf pan and now the kiddos have their very own mini meatloaves.

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This pan can also make personal banana breads, corn breads, you name it breads. It lessens the baking time and increases the cuteness factor. What more can a Mama ask for?

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Because we were having friends over for dinner this particular evening, we needed to make additional meatloaves. I simply used the pan as a way to portion out the mini loaves and put them in a glass baking dish to bake.

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We had some happy campers!

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This meal features Easy Italian Green Beans , Homemade Mashed Potatoes with Sour Cream, and of course…..Marvelous Meatloaf! 

 

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He Feeds the Birds of the Air!

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“Mama, I feel bad for that Mommy bird having to sit on her eggs without anything to eat, I bet she’s hungry.” My 6-year-old said with a worried look on her face. Every year a robin builds the most beautiful next under our deck and every year we wonder if there will be 3 or 4 eggs. This year that Mommy bird was busy with 4! I bet she was hungry after all of that building and egg making.

For those of you wondering if Mommy doesn’t come back because we touch the nest- she does. I am a huge bird lover. She yells at me, but she always comes back, hehe. 

I took this opportunity to tell sweet Julia about how God provides. Matthew 6:26 says, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” Amazing to think about how God makes sure the birds of the air are fed and to think we are even more valuable to him…

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“But, Mama…God provides through his people! I really think we should give that Mommy bird some food.” She replied. Those sweet innocent little words spoke to me and made me realize how true her statement was. So often we pray- but we don’t ask God how we can be used. Manna isn’t going to drop this very second- it could, but most likely that Mommy bird was going to have to work for or find her food somewhere. Miss Julia wanted to give her a night off. All Mama’s need a night off, don’t they?

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So….we had a birdie meal ministry that day. I didn’t know what to expect- if Mommy bird would even eat it, but we tried.

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We even left a little on the ledge in case Daddy bird came home from work and was hungry.

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Check that out. Julia was right….

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“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,

or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;

or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,

or let the fish in the sea inform you.

Which of all these does not know

that the hand of the Lord has done this?

~Job 12:7-9

How can God use YOU today?

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Fajita Night!

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Fajitanight!

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Hi Ladies! Just wanted to show you a great meal you can make for your family and friends. This is also a great/easy meal for a potluck! Just have your friends bring an item and you will be all set for your fiesta!

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Slice peppers and onions and saute in oil. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.

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Warm up the queso dip! I purchased this kind from Aldi’s (Casa Mamita). Also, warm up some chips!

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Cook refried beans and place them in a warmer (I love this particular warmer for dips).

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Use the meat of your choice, or you can go vegetarian! I marinated chicken breasts in Italian dressing overnight and fired up the grill. That’s my personal favorite way to cook chicken.

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Loving these Wildtree products! The Chipotle Lime Rub is excellent for Mexican meals.

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Mmmm…
Slice meat in strips like so.

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Warm your flour tortillas in the microwave for approximately 1 minute.

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Shred up some cheese…

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And buy or make your own salsa. I really like Little Salad Bar from Aldi’s when I’m in a hurry. Otherwise I make this recipe.

Place all your ingredients out on a spread and enjoy, my friends!

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Eclair Pudding Cake

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This recipe came from my beloved Mother-in-Law…so for our first Mother’s day without her, I made it in her honor. She made this recipe often- it’s so delicious and incredibly easy! She had great taste.

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In a medium bowl whisk together pudding and milk. Place in refrigerator for 5 mins until set.

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Add Cool Whip and fold in…

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Place graham crackers at the bottom of a 9×13.

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Top with pudding mixture. Then repeat those steps one more time.

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Frost the top like so- it seems like it’s going to be a mess, but it turns out!

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Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

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It seriously tastes just like an Eclair!

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Me with Grandma Ruth <3

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Grandma and mom <3 Thankful for these beautiful women in my life. They too loved my mother-in-law. When families marry one another it’s a beautiful thing.

Eclair Pudding Cake
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Prep time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix (Jell-O)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed (Cool Whip)
  • 1 (16 ounce) package graham crackers
  • 1 (16 ounce) package pre-made chocolate frosting
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl combine pudding mix and milk. Whisk and refrigerate for 5 mins until set.
  2. Fold in Cool Whip.
  3. Place graham crackers at the bottom of a 9x13.
  4. Add half of pudding mixture.
  5. Then add graham crackers again, then pudding mixture, then graham crackers.
  6. Frost with chocolate frosting.
  7. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight

 

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Baked Spaghetti {Cooking with Kids}

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Lately I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails asking me about how to “cook with kids”…questions ranging from how old, to what recipes, to the mess that inherently happens. This simple, yet delicious recipe is a great one to try with little ones. Both adults and children alike will love the taste of it and it’s “comfy”. Besides, who doesn’t like melted and steaming Mozzarella cheese?

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Place one container of Ricotta cheese in a mixing bowl and add garlic powder. Yes, you may use cottage cheese- mix with handheld mixer until smooth.

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Shred mozzarella  cheese.

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Typically I would make Grandma Ruth’s Sauce, but today for simplicity I used this Aldi’s brand sauce- it’s very good!

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Add sauce to the bottom of a 9×13.

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Ok, little Miss Julia…time for your favorite part! Crack 2 eggs in a bowl and beat well.

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After your spaghetti noodles are cooked al dente, drain and rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking. Then add the 2 eggs like so and toss to coat.

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Layer noodles and ricotta cheese mixture on top…

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Then add your mozzarella cheese and repeat…

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Here’s the “mess”, but I like to call it “the creative process”…

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Ready to bake in a 375 oven for 40 mins!

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Mmmmmmm…..

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“Julia Cam” moments…

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*I think I know who will be the next “Comfy in the Kitchen” blogger!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Spaghetti {Cooking with Kids}
 
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Serves: 10
Prep time:
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Ingredients
  • 1 box spaghetti noodles (serves 8)
  • 1 container of Ricotta cheese
  • 2 bricks of Mozzarella cheese
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 jars of spaghetti sauce
  • 2 eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat Oven to 375
  2. Boil spaghetti noodles to al dente, rinse with cold water and drain.
  3. Crack two eggs and beat well then toss the egg mixture, coating the noodles.
  4. Place ricotta cheese in a mixing bowl and add garlic powder, mix well.
  5. Cover the bottom of a 9x13 with spaghetti sauce.
  6. Add ½ of your noodles.
  7. Dolup with ricotta cheese.
  8. Spinkle ½ mozzarella cheese over top.
  9. Add sauce and repeat layers ending with mozzarella.
  10. Cover with foil and bake for 40 mins until bubbling.


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Creamy Crockpot Pork Chops

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I found this delicious recipe at my local butcher’s store (shout out to Duma’s Meats! I love ya!) These Chops are officially called “Melinda’s Pork Chops” and are ohhh, so delicious and easy to make! Make sure you get a great cut of meat with bone in- otherwise you will be stuck with dry chops. If you are in my neck of the woods….go to Duma’s, no grocery store meat! 😉

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Coat chops in flour, garlic powder, dry mustard and onion powder.

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Brown in olive oil.

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Place in Crockpot with Cream of Chicken Soup (do not add milk/water). Cover and let simmer for 6-8 hours until tender.

Original Recipe Here

Creamy Crockpot Pork Chops
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
http://www.dumameats.com/recipes/melindas-pork-chops/
Ingredients
  • 6 – pork chops- "Bone in"
  • 2 tbls oil
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 1-2 cans cream of chicken soup
Instructions
  1. Mix flour and dry ingredients together and coat chops.
  2. Brown in olive oil on stove and put chops in a crock pot.
  3. Pour soup over top of chops (do not dilute soup) on low for 6-8 hours until tender.
  4. Cooking time will vary depending on crock pot and size of chops

 

 

 

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EASY Parmesan Crusted Chicken

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IMG_4313This chicken recipe is so moist and flavorful. You can serve it along side of pasta or with a vegetable and potato. My entire family (and friends) love this one.

*GF option- use GF Italian seasoning.

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I love the “kick” of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.

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By combining freshly shredded and pre-grated Parmesan cheese, we get coverage, texture and full flavor. Also add a packet of Good Seasons Italian dressing mix (one of my favorite ways to add flavor in an instant.)
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Coat chicken and place on a foil lined pan.

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Bake at 375 for approximately 25-30 mins depending one the size of your chicken breasts. Do not over bake, light pink/white is perfect as the chicken will continue cooking when you take it out of the oven.

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Mmmmmm……

EASY Parmesan Crusted Chicken
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Prep time:
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Ingredients
  • 6-8 chicken breasts
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 packet of Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix
Instructions
  1. Marinate thawed chicken breasts in mixture of egg and milk. (4-6 hours)
  2. Combine cheeses and Italian dressing mix.
  3. Take chicken out of marinade and coat with mixture.
  4. Place on a foil lined pan and bake at 375 for 25-30 mins or until done.

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EASY Italian Green Beans

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Green beans are one of the only veggies my entire family will eat. Unfortunately, I don’t always have the time to fry up bacon and slice onions for my traditional recipe. This recipe is so quick and honestly more delicious than you can imagine. It’s become a weekly event in my home!

5.0 from 2 reviews
EASY Italian Green Beans
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 bag (1 lb) of frozen green beans (any cut)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 packet of Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix (dry)
Instructions
  1. Lightly prepare a small casserole dish
  2. Add green beans
  3. Dot with butter
  4. Sprinkle on dry Italian Dressing mix
  5. Cover and bake at 350 for 40 mins

 

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Easy and Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

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There is something about the comfort ham and scalloped potatoes bring to a family table. You and your family are going to love this recipe- it’s a staple in my home. This is actually one of my daughter’s favorite side dishes.

Although you need to spend a few more minutes peeling potatoes, use a food processor or slicer to speed up the process in slicing your potatoes. By having each slice of potato even also helps with even baking. Enjoy!

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Mmmmm….

5.0 from 1 reviews
Easy and Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 4 lbs of potatoes peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 6 Tbsp flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese (use 2 cups for sauce and set aside 1 cup for the topping)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter and whisk in flour to make a roux
  2. Add milk, continue stirring with a whisk.
  3. Sauce will become thicker and smooth.
  4. Reduce heat and stir in cheese.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Place a half of the sliced potatoes in a prepared 9x13 pan.
  7. Pour half of cheese sauce over potatoes.
  8. Repeat with second layer of potatoes and cheese sauce.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  10. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper
  11. Bake uncovered for about 1 hour at 350°F.

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Easy Easter Lamb Cake and an Easter Playlist {Guest Post}

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Easter Lamb Cake

Hi Ladies, I have a special guest today! Please welcome my friend Angie…

Angie says:

In my family, a good deal of meaningful conversation happens around our
kitchen table. So when holidays like Easter come around, I am always looking
for creative ways to incorporate teaching moments into our meal time.

One of our favorite family traditions is to make a lamb cake for Easter. No
special pan is needed, just an 8″ or 9″ round pan. You can find the Easter Lamb Cake Recipe at celebratingholidays.com, along with several other Easter Recipes.

Easter Lamb Cake

The imagery of the “lamb” has a special connection to Easter, so I like to
encourage conversation about it. The Bible records that for hundreds of
years, lambs were used as sacrifices for the sins of the Jewish people.
Around 700 years before Jesus was born, Isaiah wrote that the Savior would
be “led like a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7). When John the Baptist,
a contemporary of Jesus, saw Him coming toward him, he said, “Look, the Lamb
of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). These words make
sense to us as we read them retrospectively, but consider how odd they would
have sounded to the hearers of both Isaiah and John. Yet, they both
prophetically recognized Christ as a sacrificial lamb – the One who would
give himself as the perfect and final sacrifice for our sin!

The good news is that though the “Lamb” was slain, he did not stay dead! He
rose again, and sits at the right hand of his Father in heaven — where the
angels declare, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and
wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation
5:12).

“Lamb” is the title used to describe Jesus more than any other word in the
book of Revelation. The Bible tells us that all who believe in the Lamb will
one day rise with new bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-58) to live on a new earth
where “there will be no more death or morning or crying or pain!”
(Revelation 21:4). Amen!

Another one of our special family traditions is to sing Easter songs and
hymns around the dinner table. I have compiled an Easter Song Playlist on You Tube with lyric videos for singing along. Before Easter, we focus on songs about the cross, and after
Easter, we sing songs about the resurrected Jesus. Of course, you don’t have
to sing, you can just enjoy these songs as background music. Either way, I
hope they are a blessing to your family.

Easter Playlist

May your Easter celebration be a special one!

Angie Mosteller

Celebrating
Holidays

 A huge “thank you” to Angie for this adorable recipe and amazing playlist! 

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A Fun and Delicious Easter Brunch!

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Hi Ladies! I just wanted to show you the amazing party my friend Jessica planned for our daughters’ 3rd grade class. I was so impressed that I had to take pictures…she did such a great job! Check out that spread.

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There was breakfast casserole, cheesy potatoes(they had bacon in them, mmmmm), sausage in the crockpot, bacon….

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Sliced donuts, blueberry muffins, strawberries, yogurt, bananas and oranges.

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How adorable is this bunny sign?

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And these cute little cups with straws…

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It was such a fun Easter party! (I know you’re wondering what I made- the strawberries, hahaha!)

“And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.” ~Matthew 28:7

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Someone Needs to Hear YOUR Story.

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“I’ll never tell anyone that.”

“I’m so embarrassed. If anyone ever found out, I’d die.”

“I’m such a screw up. God can never use me.”

“No one will take me seriously because of [insert reason here].”

“They’ll think I’m a hypocrite if I talk about [insert flawed past here]. I’ve made such a mess of my life, how will anyone listen to what I have to share?”

We all have so many reasons why we shouldn’t be handing out life advice. I know I do! I have lots of reasons why I think I should keep my mouth shut.

I am a miserable failure at so much. Yes, sometimes I get it right, but so often…more of the time…I get it wrong. And I feel like, “what do I possibly have to share with others? How can I possibly speak to what God wants for us when I have made so many mistakes myself?”

Do you ever feel that way?

If so, please keep reading the encouraging words my dear friend Mandy from Suburban Stereotype has to say at Overcomer Outreach….

 

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Easy {No Bake} Peanut Butter Pudding Pie

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This amazing peanut butter pudding pie couldn’t get any easier to make. The ingredients are easy to store for those days you need to make a dessert in a jiffy (no pun intended).

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A pre-made graham cracker crust.

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Stir together your peanut butter and powdered sugar.

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Press down peanut butter mixture onto of your pie crust.

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Make your instant pudding and put in refrigerator for 5 mins. Then, pour on top of you pie.

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Top with Cool Whip or Whipped Cream and chopped peanuts.

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Seriously so good. Everyone in my home asked for seconds!

 
Author:
Serves: 8
Prep time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (9 inch) Graham Cracker Pie Crust
  • ¾ Cup Peanut Butter
  • ¾ Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 (3.4 oz) Instant Vanilla Pudding mix
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 1 Container Cool Whip or 1-2 cups homemade whipped cream.
Instructions
  1. Make your pudding ahead of time by whisking milk and pudding mix. Place in refrigerator.
  2. Mix together peanut butter and powdered sugar and press it at the bottom of the pie crust.
  3. Pour vanilla pudding over top of peanut butter.
  4. Top with Cool Whip/Whipped Cream.

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Chicken Bake {Using Wildtree Products}

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Hi Ladies! I just wanted to let you know about a new product that I have tried and LOVED. It’s called WildTree. Wildtree was founded on the premise that food should be natural, nutritious, delicious and easy to prepare – all at the same time. Their products are made with the finest ingredients available and contain no preservatives, additives, MSGs or dyes. They also have TONS of gluten-free options (awesome!). I love this product because it’s not only delicious, it’s “comfy”- they offer free recipes using their products that are simple, yet healthy.

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Here is a meal I made for a dear friend who is on a gluten and dairy free diet. I simply placed chicken breasts, frozen green beans and red potatoes in a disposable pan. I then drizzled everything with WildTree’s Garlic Grapeseed Oil and sprinkled some Wildtree Italian Dressing Mix over the top. I covered it with foil and away it went!

Here is a list of all of their products– they are delicious! And say hello to sweet Melanie for me- she is precious.

Chicken Bake {Using Wildtree Products}
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Prep time:
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Ingredients
  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 1 bag frozen green beans
  • 12 red potatoes (I would recommend quartering them- I didn't in the photo because they would have browned because this was a meal ministry)
  • Wildtree grapes oil
  • Wildetree Italian dressing mix
Instructions
  1. Lay in rows your chicken, green beans, and potatoes.
  2. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle liberally with Italian seasoning.
  3. Bake in a 375 oven for 45 mins to an hour.

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Fruit Salad with Pudding

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I had this delicious fruit salad for the first time a few weeks ago when a friend introduced it to me! The pudding adds a delicious “kick” to the traditional method…and of course, it’s “Comfy”.

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In a large bowl add sliced strawberries, blue berries, 1 can of sliced peaches in their juices and 1 can of pineapple in their juices.

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Simply pour 1 box of instant vanilla pudding on top and stir well.

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Refrigerate for at least an hour.

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It really is delicious! Enjoy!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Fruit Salad with Pudding
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 2-3 cups sliced strawberries
  • 2 cups blue berries
  • 1 (15 oz) can peaches in juices
  • 1 (15 oz) can pineapple in juices
  • 1 (3 oz) box instant vanilla pudding
Instructions
  1. Add fruit and juices to a large bowl, then pour in the dry instant pudding. Mix well. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Enjoy!

 

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Do Generational Curses Still Exist Today?

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The other day I was talking with a very kind man who was explaining  how there’s evidence of “generational curses” throughout the history of families. Not only that… the bible tells us that for four generations, predecessors will be under the influence of this “curse”. For example, if your grandparents got divorced, your parents got divorced, you got divorced, then guess what? Your precious children will still be under this curse and are bound to get divorced. It’s up to us to stop it. I knew immediately the verse he was referring to…

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. Exodus 20:5

Sweet friends, there’s a problem with this interpretation of God’s word.

Please join me over at Overcomer Outreach to read more

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Our Valentine’s Day Dinner

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I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in North East Ohio- it is cooooooold. We decided to celebrate Valentine’s day at home with our dear friends who live near by- we beat the weather and had a wonderful night in with our families. Here was what was on the menu…..

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Marinated and Grilled Pork Tenderloin (Yes, I grilled – thankfully, the grill moved very close to the back door!)
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Homemade Cheesy Potatoes- I’ll be back with this recipe.

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Green beans….I simply poured 2 bags of green beans in a casserole dish, dotted with 3/4 stick of butter and added 2 packets of dry Italian dressing. I baked them for 45 mins in a 350 oven.

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Fruit salad {which I didn’t serve because I forgot about it, lol!} I will be back with this recipe- it was from the same friend who gave me this recipe…..

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I made these delicious cake covered ice cream balls, but I used chocolate syrup with crushed Oreos instead. Mmmm..

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My sweet little one decorated the kid table, made place cards, and pink lemonade. She has such a servant’s heart.

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and our amazing friends….such blessings in our lives.

I am so thankful for ALL of the wonderful friends God has given us….what a gift true friendship is. <3

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

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Cake Coated Ice Cream Balls

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Ohhh my, Ladies….do I have a recipe for you! Do you like cake and ice cream? I think I know the answer to that….

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Do you like nuts, chocolate and Heath bars? I know MY answer to that.

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You are going to LOVE this recipe a sweet new friend of mine made at a bible study this week. I simply HAD to share it with you!

Cake Coated Ice Cream Balls
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Carton vanilla ice cream
  • 1 Prepared dark chocolate cake
  • 1 Jar Mrs. Richardson's hot fudge syrup
  • Nuts
  • Heath bars
  • Cherries
Instructions
  1. Prepare a dark chocolate cake as directed. When cool, break it apart in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Put on gloves and roll small balls of vanilla ice-cream, then roll them into the bowl of cake and coat well.
  3. Freeze until ready to serve.
  4. When ready to serve, place in a cupcake wrapper, drizzle with fudge syrup, sprinkle with nuts and heath bars and top with a cherry.
  5. Enjoy!
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Easy Clean-Up Advice for an Outdoor Party!

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Meatropolitan Museum of Meat

Image Credit

I know for some of us (hand raised) it is still snowing and we are awaiting for the ground hog to come out and pray he does not see his shadow. However, in some parts of the country (and in different countries right now) Winter  is over and Spring is beginning to show its face!

One of my favorite ways to spend time with friends and family is to hostess a  barbecue. There is something about it that is so inviting, relaxing and comforting. Ohhhh, I can almost hear the children playing and smell the aroma of freshly grilled meats and veggies right now.

However, once the party is over, there is clean-up to be done. Here are a handful of great tips that will make it easier on you to clean up after a barbecue.

Use A Pressure Washer

Pressure washers are the best household cleaning equipment that you can have in this situation. An all day party on the deck or patio can be a breeding ground to all sorts of mishaps and spills.

Having a good quality pressure washer to blast away any lingering stains turns an potentially arduous task into a rather fun one! If you don’t feel the desire to buy your own pressure washer, there a plenty of rental companies that offer great service and great rental prices.

Use Disposable Plates and Cutlery

Let’s be honest, nobody wants to clean dishes! This problem can be easily solved by bulk buying paper plates, plastic cutlery and cups for your guests to use. This option means that you’ll not have a tower of dishes waiting for you at the end of the day and that there’s no risk of your dishes breaking outdoors (and little feet being cut! ouch!)

Provide Plenty of Trash Bags

In an outdoor situation some people find the temptation to throw their trash on the floor too irresistible, leading to a much bigger and unwanted clean up situation for the host. By placing conveniently-placed trash bags (putting them in trash cans is even better) at certain locations on your deck or patio, you will encourage your guests to be more respectful and to dispose of their used plates, cups and bottles in a much tidier manner.

Filling up these trash bags means that you are cleaning as the party is still going, which leaves you with less of a job when the barbecue is over, and means that you can kick back, relax and clean the grill for the next party.

Soooo….tell me, what is the temperature like where you live? Ohhhh, I cannot wait for warm days and Barbecues! For those who are in warmer climates- I hope this post helps you!

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Snow Cream

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I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here in the Midwest- it is snooooooowy!

And I love it. So do the kids.

We got a call from the school early Monday morning that school was canceled. I got the sweetest e-mail from my daughter’s teacher (love her) about to make “Snow Cream”. You know I couldn’t let that go in one ear and out the other! So, we had a day together, making this yummy recipe, sled riding, and drinking hot cocoa. What a blessing.

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Pile up a bowl full of {clean} snow! This was off of our deck.

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Stainless steel mixing bowls keep the snow cold.

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Add a cup of milk.

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A tsp of vanilla, 1/2 cup of sugar, and about 5 drops of food coloring {your choice of color}.

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Mix well with a spoon. You may need to add more milk to make it creamier. Taste it and see if it is sweet enough, if not- add a little more sugar to your liking.

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It tastes and looks like cotton candy!

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Snow Cream
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • Bowlful of clean snow
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 5 drops of food coloring
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients well. Add more milk if needed, add more sugar if you'd like it to be sweeter

 

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The Judgement Seat of Christ

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Hi Ladies,

Just wanted to share a very near and dear post I wrote for Overcomer Outreach. It was so bittersweet to write because as I wrote it I have faith she is in the very place she wondered about….in heaven. Ohhh…how I long to be there.

Here is a snippet, and I hope you’ll join me over there.

Much love, Janelle

We were in the lower level of my mother-in-law’s split level, sitting next to her on the ottoman pulled up to her hospital bed. She had such a distraught look on her face when she looked at me and asked,

“Janelle, how do I know for sure I’ll go to heaven?”

“What do you mean, Kathy?” I asked, knowing she had put her faith in Christ.

“Well, I just don’t feel good enough.” She said crying.

I looked up at my husband with tears in my eyes and nodded, he replied, “Mom, none of us are good enough, that’s why Jesus had to die for us.” She nodded, closed her eyes and exhaled- I could feel relief run through her weary body.

He could have told her all the amazing things she had done, the wonderful wife she was…loving mother, devoted friend, beyond excellent grandmother, and the list would go on. But he didn’t. He told her the truth…and that truth set her free.

Nothing she did or didn’t do could convince her she was going to heaven. What convinced her were those words, along side of God’s truth in which we read….

Read the rest of the story here. 

 

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Caramelized Bacon

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This delicious recipe comes from a dear reader, Stacey – She was so kind to e-mail me this, therefore- I had to try it. Ohhhh, yum. That’s all I have to say.

Stacey gave me the following photos:

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3 ingredients: bacon, mustard and brown sugar.

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Place your bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet for easy clean-up.

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Brush with mustard like so…

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Sprinkle on the goods…(brown sugar).

P1020681Bake until nice and crispy. Is your mouth watering yet?

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My family loved it too!

Thanks Stacey!!! GREAT recipe!

If anyone else has “must try” recipes that are easy like this, send em on over to me! JMNehrenz@me.com

Caramelized Bacon
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • ½ lb. bacon
  • 2 Tbsp. mustard
  • ½ c. brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cover a large baking sheet (you'll want one with a lip) with aluminum foil.
  3. Spread each slice of bacon with a thin coating of mustard and cover generously with brown sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until desired crispness (the crispier the better!).
  4. Remove from pan while still hot and serve.

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Kitchen Utensils That You Should NEVER Put in the Dishwasher

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Kitchen Utensils
An electric dish cleaner is an effective and hassle-free way of cleaning utensils, plates, and other kitchen utensils. In just a matter of minutes, you will be able clean all your dishes effectively. That way, you do not need to spend hours in the kitchen sink.

But even with all its advanced features, this equipment still has one major downside. Because of its convenience, a lot of people became lazy with the way they clean their dishes.

People who are fortunate enough to have this cleaning appliance will understand how tempting it is to just chuck in the machine any dirty plate or spoon that you see lying around in the kitchen. Unfortunately, this habit is a big mistake and should be stopped as soon as possible. The dishwasher may be amazing in so many levels, but it can also be rough on some of your other important kitchen items. So to help you out, here is a list of utensils and kitchenware that you should NEVER put in the dishwasher.

1. Wooden utensils – Wooden spoons, chopsticks, chopping boards, and salad bowls should be cleaned by hand. The extreme heat, moisture, and strong cleaning agents will cause the wood to swell up and become cracked.

2. Knives – The tough cleaning detergent can create nicks and scratches on your kitchen knives. It can also remove the silver plating of your items. In addition, sharp objects might also damage your other utensils and even the dishwasher.

3.  Hand-blown Glass – these types of glassware are highly sensitive to extreme heat. In addition, the detergent can also chip the glass surface and lose its natural luster. These items should only be hand-washed and dried using a soft towel.

4. Nonstick Pans – its non-stick surface can easily be chipped away because of the extreme heat inside the dishwasher.

5. Copper Pans – Placing them inside the dishwasher regularly will cause discoloration on their surfaces.

6. Items with Adhesives – glue can easily melt off when exposed to extreme heat. These sticky residues will clog the dishwasher and damage it. Before putting any utensils, make sure that the glued labels on each piece are removed.

Can you share other cleaning tips to your fellow readers? Feel free to post them in the comments section!

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Packing Lunches for the Entire Week {Made Easy!}

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Packing lunches
Our mornings were getting very stressful…

With the busyness of life, the cold weather, the time change, the snooze button- you name it… packing lunches got placed on the back burner. There was barely enough time for breakfast, let alone time to pack lunches, so off my children went with money to purchase their lunches at school. I was very grateful to have that option, however my heart’s desire was to pack for them.

So Monday, I turned a new leaf. I prepared in advance for the entire week and now packing lunches in the morning is fun! I’ll show you how…


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After I went to the grocery store, I took an hour and prepped the above. I made sure to have different sized ziplock  bags and I went to to town rinsing, dicing, cutting and portioning out all of the lunch items I purchased.

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I cubed cheese, cut carrots, broccoli, and cucumbers and hard boiled eggs.

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I cut up strawberries and portioned out grapes. I made salami and cream cheese tortilla rollups and bagged them up too.

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I rolled up just salami and cheese and made them into rollups and bagged up snack mixes.

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I portioned out sunflower seeds, animal crackers and trail mix.

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And banana chips…


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Then I placed them in containers with like attributes. This was my veggie container.

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My fruit container…

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The proteins…
Then I placed the dry snacks in bowls and put them away in the cupboard.

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Storage in the refrigerator was simple.

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Now morning time lunch packing is fun! The kiddos (and Dad) get to choose what they want from each container and all is good in the world 😉

I hope this helps my fellow Mama’s!

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A Meal Ministry Idea {Semi-Homemade w/ added touches!}

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Ladies, through this difficult time, I’ve mentioned that people have been caring for me as I helped care for my family. Honestly, I’ve not been much of a cook lately. When I look back, the past few months have been kind of a blur….I know many of you know what I mean when I say that. Trauma has a way with us-our bodies, our memory, etc. just barely function as we keep going. We just push and get through with the strength only God can lend.

Whenever I would be the recipient of a meal ministry and had my phone on me, I would snap pictures so I could show them on the blog. All of this is to glorify God and to show how he works through others so to comfort us.

Phil 2:13 states “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

This delicious meal came from my daughter’s teacher. I was so humbled when she asked to make a meal for us, as she serves me so much every day by teaching and caring for my little one. This is the perfect example of how we can bring a very special meal to someone that’s semi-homemade. She ordered the most delicious stromboli you’d ever eat, made a salad with apples, cranberries, nuts and feta cheese with an amazing dressing, cut up oranges and added after dinner mints and a bag of cookies.

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My children were so excited to get these twirly straws…and aren’t those napkins beautiful? When you’re out and about at Marcs (or whatever discount store you might have near you) pick up items like this in advance for ministry opportunities.

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I was so excited to share this idea with you Ladies….she took the bottom of a cardboard box and wrapped it in beautiful paper. This is such an excellent idea for a serving tray that doesn’t need to be given back. She also used large Ziplock bags so I didn’t have to give those back either.

This meal will forever stay in my heart- what a blessing it was. My children were also so filled with joy that their teacher did this for all of us. I’d say her name, but I fear embarrassing her…she’s amazing.

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When Meal Ministry Didn’t Matter

Kathy

Kathy

My eyes are filled with tears as I sit down and write this.

How do I write this. 

I love meal ministry…you know I do. Not only does it remove something off of a tiresome daily list during difficult days, it’s an outward motion of love. It says “I’m here for you, I care, and I am doing something to show you that I am walking this walk with you.”

But the past few months, my typical “go to” way of loving someone didn’t matter.

She couldn’t eat.

Now I’m crying even harder…breathe, Janelle.

Some of you might know my beloved Mother-in-Law went home to be with the Lord on December 17th, 2014. She was an amazing mother to my husband, outstanding grandma, and truly…I mean truly, one of my very best friends. At 55 years old, her life was cut too short, yet she lived it more fully than anyone I know. She passed away from stage 4 triple-negative breast cancer.

Being that she only lived 7 minutes away (yes, we timed it) I was there quite a bit to keep her company. One of the hardest things I had to wrestle with was how I could serve her. My typical meal ministry wouldn’t be a help… she couldn’t eat.  She lost a total of 140 lbs… It pained me so much to know she couldn’t eat, I felt so helpless. I even found myself not wanting to eat…

At the beginning of her end-days, her friends and I would bring over slushies (Burger King- Cherry, or Taco Bell-Dr.Pepper at her request) or even a “Mickey D’s” sweet tea. But, as she progressed, nothing ministered to her in the way of food or even drink.

Being the hands and feet of Jesus meant something different- it meant ministering to her in the way she needed, not the way I wanted.

There was a day she asked me to help her over to the computer to draft a list of songs to be placed on a CD for her memorial. She also wanted more CDs to be made for her friends and family. Kathy loved music, especially praise and worship music. So, we spent that day on You Tube…(smiling) when I say we spent the day, I mean we spent the day… This dear woman cracked me up- she would name a song such as, “It is Well with My Soul” and we would go through 10 versions of it to find “just the right one”. Sure enough when she found “the one” it was always my favorite version too.

One song in particular was very important to her, but she couldn’t put her finger on the name of it…she said, “Ok Janelle, it goes like this…I’d rather be in grave than live in a house of cards.” I remember googling her words-because this song was important to her, I was determined to find it, regardless of the odd lyrics. But, I have to say (as I was guessing in my head)…a bunch of gambling sites came up.

We honestly looked for a good hour.

“Kathy, are you sure it’s House of Cards? Who sings it?” I asked. She always had this look when she was thinking…she would kind of move her mouth to the side and look up. She replied, ” Look up Gaither’s and House and see what comes up.” Sure enough, we found the song… House of GOLD!

We laughed so hard. It actually became an inside joke to both of us throughout the days to come. 

I turned up the song she so loved to celebrate it’s discovery. It had a groovy little swag to it so I stood up, danced and clapped to the beat. She laughed so hard, started clapping and singing too…it was just the two of us. We weren’t thinking about cancer or medicine or death…

Laughter, joy, humor and praise filled the living room. That room saw some pretty dark hours …but in that moment, we were having fun.

This is just one memory I have of that precious time with her. This blog isn’t big enough to list everything, but I do want to add…

I witnessed Kathy’s friends also minister to her in a way that touched me so deeply.  They too felt helpless, but it was their time, prayers, laughter, concern, loving hugs, and genuine help for basic needs that ministered her. As I watched many of them by her side, it put friendship into a very real and new perspective for me. These women weren’t having a girls night out, they were sacrificing themselves for her. Whatever she needed, whenever she needed it, however long she needed it- they were there. It was beautiful.

So friends, the reason I haven’t been blogging very much is because I’ve been ministering in a way that meal ministry just didn’t matter….I’ve been lucky to even cook for my own family. In fact, many people have been cooking for me.

Thank you for your grace….

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Best EVER Banana Pudding

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I love bananas- banana cream pie, banana bread, peanut butter on bananas, chocolate covered bananas, etc. But there aren’t too many “festive” banana recipes that would go along with the Christmas season. When I saw this recipe, I thought to myself “Yahtzee! Pepperidge Farm makes Christmas Chessmen! This is perfect.” I honestly cannot tell you how delicious this banana pudding is…after we had it for dessert, my kids kept opening the refrigerator for extra spoonfuls. It will be my “go-to” dessert… even in winter.

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These are so delicious and buttery.

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Lay cookies down on a 9×13, then layer with sliced bananas.

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Mix your pudding with milk and let sit until firm.

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Beat together condensed milk with cream cheese.

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Mix in pudding and pour over top of bananas, then top with the remaining Chessmen.

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Best EVER Banana Pudding
 
Author:
Recipe type: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/not-yo-mamas-banana-pudding-recipe.html
Serves: 12
Prep time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
  • 6 to 8 bananas, sliced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream
Instructions
  1. Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.
  2. In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer.
  3. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture.
  4. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended.
  5. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Recipe courtesy Paula Deen
  8. Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/not-yo-mamas-banana-pudding-recipe.html?oc=linkback

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How to String Cranberries

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We cherish homemade ornaments in our home and our kiddos help decorate the tree with them. I never adjust anything they do, because what they love and do is beautiful to me. First, we put on all of the bulbs and decorative items, then we get out the homemade items and remember what year they were made. My children love looking at old artwork and pictures – It means so much to them and to me. When people come over, they are so proud of “their” tree and lead them right to it…it’s precious.

The kiddos mentioned stringing either popcorn or cranberries this year, so I found this easy method on how to string cranberries that I thought I’d share. It’s just taking waxed dental floss and a regular needle through the cranberries. The wax helps the cranberries move down the string a lot easier.

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This is my youngest- she’s just six years old and is making her own strand.
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Good job!

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Her first two cranberries…now about a thousand more :)
Make sure to knot the end of your strands.



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Lovely. Thank’s sweetheart! Great job.

Do you make homemade ornaments as well? I’d love to know some of your Christmas traditions!

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The Best {Kitchen} Black Friday Deals

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Keurig

Hi Ladies! I have had several e-mails that have asked me what the best deals are online for Kitchen supplies. So, I decided to give you a post as far as what I was seeing {and liking} out there on the internet for today’s Black Friday sales!

Here we go…

Anolon 11 piece cookware set


I love the glass lids, non-stick and dishwasher safe aspects of these heavy-duty pots and pans! A great deal for $269.99 {was $450!}

The Kitchenaid 5 qt Mixer


WOW!!! For the price and quality, Kitchenaid is by far one of my favorite brands. Right now it’s on sale for $279.99 on top of that Kitchenaid is offering a $50 rebate! That’s just $229.99 for a standing mixer that is originally priced at $429.99 {50% off}!

Charbroil Gas Grill with Side Burners


This is the grill I have (yes, I use a gas grill-I know, I know- but it’s so much easier). The price of this was $300.32 and today it’s marked down to $175.99! This is the BEST time of the year to buy grills and they are great gifts for the man in your family who is hard to buy for.

Keurig K130


This is a deal I personally took advantage of for a family member for Christmas. This is an Amazon’s #1 Best Seller which was originally priced at $129.99 and I purchased it for $ 70.99. This is a great gift for a college student, a private office, or for that special someone who loves coffee, but no one else in the house does (crazy, I know). For almost half off- it’s a great deal for a trusted brand!

Ninja Professional Blender


After many blenders and frustration, I finally purchased the Ninja and couldn’t be happier. I’d recommend this blender to anyone. Today, I saw it on sale for $110.85, the original price was $149.99. If you or someone you know is in need of a blender- go no further.

Happy Shopping Everyone! Love to you, Janelle

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The Thanksgiving Chair

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My mother-in-law has always loved this video and every year since she first saw it, she has posted it to her FB page around this time.  I wanted to share it with you this Thanksgiving in her honor…

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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Homemade Birthday Cakes

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My “middlest” is turning 9 next week and as cliche as it sounds it just doesn’t seem possible. She is such a sweet, giving and thoughtful little girl – I’m so grateful to be her mom. As I was looking through Pinterest for ideas about what to make for her cake, it dawned on me that my beloved mother-in-law was the one who inspired me to start baking my own cakes. My husband remembers her making his cakes for his birthday growing up and he said it brought back great memories. For something I never gave much thought to before, it certainly has been a sweet tradition I’ve had the joy of carrying out.

Now, I’m not a “Pinterest Perfect” baker- you aren’t going to see rolled fondant from this girl. But, what you will see is a mom, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and friend who loves the people around her ….


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Our youngest wanted a rainbow themed party one year….she loved this cake.

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Our oldest had a baseball party and he absolutely LOVES Oreos…so we mixed the two that year.

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One of my dear friends got engaged!

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Our daughter was very into horses one year. My best effort, lol- she loved it despite the lack of perfection.

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Happy Birthday Jesus!

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My Father-in-Law loves carrot cake, so we made him this for his birthday one year.

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There’s my sweet mother-in-law catching a memory :)

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And here comes the Minecraft Creeper cake….it’s a beauty, isn’t it.

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My little one’s balloon funfetti cake….

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This one the kiddos got to make themselves for grandpa…they were SO proud.

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And for another dear friend ….

Do you purchase or make your own cakes? What’s your favorite cake?!

This post is dedicated to my dear mother-in-law who is in the final stages of cancer. I can’t tell you how much she has influenced my life and has made me a better mother. Love her so much…

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The Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe Ever

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I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails asking me after I thaw and brine my turkey…how do I roast it the next day?  This recipe comes from The Food Network’s Giada DeLaurentiis and it has become my absolute favorite way to roast a turkey. The first time I had this was at my dad’s house a few years ago and I’ve made it every year since. It’s incredibly flavorful, makes the turkey moist and even the people who say they don’t like turkey…..love it. Not kidding. 

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Stuff, season, and butter as directed. 

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Cover and roast for 20 mins, then add broth. 

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Baste as directed. 

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Roast until the internal temperature is at 165 degrees. Cover with foil after it is done roasting and let it sit for 30 mins before carving. 

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The Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe Ever
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/turkey-with-herbes-de-provence-and-citrus-recipe.html
Ingredients
  • 1 (14 to 15-pound) turkey, neck and giblets reserved
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 6 fresh sage sprigs
  • 6 fresh oregano sprigs
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth (approximate amount)
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/turkey-with-herbes-de-provence-and-citrus-recipe.html?oc=linkback
Instructions
  1. To make the turkey: Position the rack in the lowest third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
  2. Rinse the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels.
  3. Place the turkey on a rack set inside a large roasting pan.
  4. Place the orange and lemon wedges, onion, and 2 sprigs of each fresh herb in the main turkey cavity.
  5. Tie the legs together to hold the shape of the turkey.
  6. Stir 2 tablespoons of butter, the herbes de Provence, oil, and 1½ teaspoons of each the salt and pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat just until the butter melts.
  7. Rub the butter mixture all over the turkey and between the turkey breast meat and skin.
  8. Place the turkey neck and giblets in roasting pan.
  9. (Recipe can be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead.
  10. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before roasting.)
  11. Cover the turkey breast with foil.
  12. Roast for 20 minutes.
  13. Pour 3 cups of broth into the pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  14. Add the remaining sprigs of fresh herbs to the pan.
  15. Roast the turkey for 40 minutes.
  16. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  17. Remove the foil from the turkey; pour 1 more cup of broth into the pan.
  18. Continue roasting the turkey until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F to 175 degrees F or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer, basting occasionally with pan juices, about 1 hour and 30 minutes longer.
  19. Transfer the turkey to a platter and tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes while preparing the gravy.
  20. To make the gravy: Strain the turkey pan juices from the roasting pan through a sieve and into a 4-cup glass measuring cup; discard the solids. Spoon off the fat from atop the pan juices. Add enough chicken broth, about 1 to 2 cups, to the pan juices to measure 4 cups total. Melt the remaining butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the broth. Simmer until the gravy thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the turkey with the gravy.
  21. Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/turkey-with-herbes-de-provence-and-citrus-recipe.html?oc=linkback

 

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How to Make a Christmas Centerpiece With What You Have

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Christmas decorations can so comforting, but they can also break the bank if you let them. I’m sure it might come to no surprise that I love a “comfy” centerpiece, but this year I truly did not want to go buy a lot.

Here’s what I used to make mine…

A rustic fruit bowl I already had (from Goodwill)
3 mason jars I purchased from Michaels this week (they are on sale for .99 cents each)
Pine cones I already had from last year.
Candles I had on hand.
Holly berries and tree foliage from my yard.

I love this because its natural and comforting….

What are some ways you save with Christmas decor?

P.S. Forgive me for talking about Christmas before Thanksgiving, I’m getting head start this year!

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How to Brine Your Thanksgiving Turkey

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Brine 3
Brining is the *key* to making a delicious, moist and flavorful Thanksgiving turkey. It’s a sweet and savory marinade that adds that extra “something” to your main course. It’s simple, yet worth the extra few steps!

Brine1In a large stock pot boil all ingredients (but ice). 

Brine2After simmering for 1 hour, put ice in and let cool. 

Brine 3Place a thawed turkey with insides removed in a large cooking bag. Place on a foil turkey roaster. Pour cooled brine over top. 

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Place in refrigerator overnight before roasting.

* It may take up to 5 days to thaw your turkey, just a huge FYI!

 

How to Brine a Turkey
 
Author:
Serves: 10
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 sprigs Rosemary
  • 4 Sage leaves
  • 6 cups ice
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot boil all ingredients (but ice).
  2. After simmering for 1 hour, put ice in and let cool.
  3. Place a thawed turkey with insides removed in a large cooking bag.
  4. Place on a foil turkey roaster.
  5. Pour cooled brine over top.
  6. Place in refrigerator overnight before roasting.

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Colored Popcorn {Pink}

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Colored popcorn is a yummy little treat that is not only easy to make- but enjoyed by ALL {grown-ups, kiddos, GF and glutenous maxiumus friends} You can decide on the color- here I used pink. But, I can see blue for a “Frozen” birthday party, red and green for Christmas, green for St. Patty’s day, etc. 

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Pop 4 bags of microwave popcorn separately {2 mins each bag} and place into two bowls. 

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In a medium saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, and half and half. Let simmer until a rapid boil forms. 

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Take off of burner and add vanilla and your choice of food coloring. 

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Mix well. Spread out on parchment paper. You can tell I used buttered popcorn {which tastes great} however, for a more dramatic effect, I would use plain popcorn next time so the color comes through a bit better. 

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Let cool. 

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Ready to eat! Have fun! 

Colored Popcorn {Pink}
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 4 bags popped microwaved popcorn {popped individually- 2 mins each}
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ⅔ cup half & half
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • food coloring of your choice
Instructions
  1. Pop popcorn and place into two bowls.
  2. In a medium saucepan add sugar, corn syrup and half & half. Let simmer until it boils on medium-high heat.
  3. Take off of heat and add vanilla and food coloring.
  4. Add syrup to popcorn and mix well.
  5. Pour popcorn out onto a table lined with parchment paper {or waxed paper}.
  6. Let cool.
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Labels

OO Labels Tear Us Down

 

OO Labels Tear Us Down

Ladies, I am praying for you and hope that you find this video and small activity helpful! Please join me and my very talented group of authors over at Overcomer Outreach for more encouraging messages! I’d also love to talk with you over at the Overcomer FB page.

Love to you, Janelle

Video Notes and Ideas:

From the book “Unglued” by: Lysa Terkheurst 

1. Identify the label as a lie meant to tear me down.

2. I chose to view this circumstance as a call to action, not a call to beat myself up mentally.

3. I used the momentum of tackling one label to help me tackle more.

Labels in the Bible: 

Peter had a TEMPER- Yet, he allowed Christ to mold and shape him. 
David had an AFFAIR- Yet, he was a man after God’s own heart. 
Noah got DRUNK- Yet, God made a covenant with him and he was faithful.
Saul (Paul) was a MURDERER and hated Jesus and his disciples- Yet, Jesus showed himself to him after his death and gave Paul the gospel to preach to the Jews and Gentiles. (Romans 1:16)
Thomas was a DOUBTER- Yet, he was quick to repent and have great faith. 
Moses STUTTERED- Yet, God told him the 10 commandments. 

Common labels we can give ourselves:

Fat, ugly, dumb, a mistake, drunk, adulteress, unforgiveable, terrible cook, old, not interesting, anti-social, can’t keep or make friends, divorcee, single-mom, moody, prideful, jealous, etc.

What I want you to say to yourselves (write it down):

Just because I am ___________, doesn’t mean that I am _____________.

For Example:

Just because I have had a failed marriage doesn’t mean that I am a failure.
Just because dinner didn’t turn out doesn’t mean that I am a bad cook.
Just because I envied her home doesn’t mean that I am not thankful for what I have.
Just because I failed at nursing my child doesn’t mean that I am a bad mom.

The label Christ wants you to wear:

GRACE

Scripture to meditate on: 

 

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:5

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  Ephesians 2:8

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

 

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Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

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For those of you who are carving pumpkins this weekend, I wanted to share with you my family’s favorite way to eat pumpkin seeds. My kiddos love pumpkin pie, so I decided to add a little spice to an old-time classic autumn treat. Enjoy!

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Pre-heat oven to 400

Take the seeds out of your pumpkin and drain them in a colander, taking out any pumpkin remains- rinse. Blot try with paper towels. Place parchment paper down on a baking sheet and pour your seeds on top. Drizzle with butter and season with Pumpkin spice. Roast for approximately 15 mins turning half way through. When the seeds are browned, remove and place in a large bowl, sprinkle with sugar.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • Pumpkin seeds from one large pumpkin
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Sugar to taste
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400
  2. Take the seeds out of your pumpkin and drain them in a colander, taking out any pumpkin remains- rinse.
  3. Blot try with paper towels.
  4. Place parchment paper down on a baking sheet and pour your seeds on top.
  5. Drizzle with butter and season with Pumpkin spice.
  6. Roast for approximately 15 mins turning half way through.
  7. When the seeds are browned, remove and place in a large bowl, sprinkle with sugar.

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Product Review of T. Marzetti Apple Crisp

apple crisp

apple crispJust wanted to give a little shout out to T.Marzetti because I love their “Apple Crisp Easy to Bake Mix”! I’m not getting paid a single cent to say it 😉 I simply enjoy giving credit where credit is earned and this really is great “go to” item to have stocked in your pantry for when guests come over unexpectedly. It is unexpectedly delish! 

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Photo Credit: Marzetti’s Kitchen

Serve warm out of the oven, topped with caramel, a la mode. Autumn in a dish…. 

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The Duggar’s Tator Tot Bake

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My dear friend Courtney from Women Living Well recommend I try the Duggar’s Hasbrown Casserole- she said it was a hit in her home! So, I did just that….and sure enough, my family loved it. I changed a couple things based on our personal taste…but you may want to look at Courtney’s recipe to see the original! Enjoy!

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Brown your choice of meat. I used a ground beef- you might choose ground turkey or chicken.

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Whisk together cream of chicken soup and evaporated milk.

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In a 9×13 pan spread ground beef and top with Tator Tots (or hasbrowns).

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Pour soup mixture over top.

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Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

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Bake in a 350 oven for about an hour. Enjoy!

The Duggar's Tator Tot Bake
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1lb ground beef, cooked and drained
  • 2lb bag of tator tots (frozen)
  • 2 cans Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1 12oz can of evaporated milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350
  2. Place cooked and drained ground beef at the bottom of a 9x13
  3. top with frozen tator tots
  4. In a bowl whisk together soup and evaporated milk, pour over top
  5. Top with cheese
  6. Cover and bake for about an hour or until bubbly


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Fall Rice Krispies {Across the Web)

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Adorable pumpkins from Home Stories A to Z

One of my children’s {and yes, mine too} favorite “treats” are Rice Krispie treats. I’ve shared with you my favorite recipe {they are huge, buttery, and ohhh so gooey}, I’ve shared the peanut butter kind {gluten and dairy-free}, I’ve shared with you rainbow style, and the ever so amazing Scotcharoos.

Today, I thought I would see what was happening in blog world. Since it’s fall, let’s take a look at all the festivities! Adorable sightings were found….

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Adorable Candy Corns from Rice Krispies

Turkey Rice Krispie Treats decorated for Thanksgiving! Easy dessert that kids can help make!

Turkey Treats from Shugary Sweets!

Pumpkin Spice Treats from “The Comfort of Cooking”

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White Chocolate Candy Corn Treats from Yellow Bliss Road.

We have some very “Comfy” bakers all over the web…what great ideas! Thanks, fellow bloggers!

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Living Life with God’s Power and Tools.

Living Life with God's Power and Tools

Living Life with God's Power and Tools

People who don’t know me would never know it. I’m very easy going and free spirited, actually. 

In fact, most people who struggle with anxiety hide it pretty well. They tend to be the ones who are very “put together”.

They’re the happy, helping, volunteering, cooking, cleaning, working, mending, smiling, taxi-ing, calling, texting-to-check-in, dressed-perfectly kind of people. The types who hate making waves. The ones who seek peace in all circumstances for fear of conflict. Often times, these folks are very well-liked and if by slight chance they aren’t, realistically it’s because someone is jealous of them. Because they’re picture-perfect right?

Ohhhh, no.

Let me tell you the truth about “my kind”.

Our outer appearance typically lacks balance with our internal struggle.

For some odd reason, us anxiety- prone people also tend to be “taker on-ers”. Don’t ask me why, we just are.

It could be our pride, people-pleasing attributes, irrational fear, false guilt, or whatever the case, our lives can get pretty heavy in an instant. We pile “yeses” on top of “yeses” out of an unbalanced mix of genuine concern and fear. Fear that we aren’t good enough, that we might hurt someone’s feelings, or fear we may look bad if we don’t overachieve.

The very thing that makes us anxious-having too much on our plate, is the very thing we do to ourselves-sign up for everything under the sun.

On top of all of that, we add a heaping second helping of fear to all that we avoid or anything that could happen. After all, this world is a scary place. This isn’t our home!  

Why, dear friends, do we give so much power to anxiety? And if you don’t want to label it anxiety…why do we give so much power to people, or to our circumstances, or to fear?

God’s word says in 2 Timothy 1:7:

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

 

This means that whatever fears we are facing, whenever we are anxious, or whatever irrational thoughts we might have they are simply not from God. How do I know this? His words says so. He does not give us the spirit of fear.

But, what He does give us are extremely valuable tools-

Power.
Love.
A Sound Mind.

Do these words stabilize you as much as they do me? You see, these tools need to be used in order for them to be useful. If we hand over these tools for anxiety, worry, and fear, our jobs are not going to be done. God’s work will be done, it just won’t be done though us- someone else will be willing. We may look as though we’re busy, but honestly we are creating wreckage. There’s only so much that wreckage can do and only so long wreckage can go on.

Our power? Gone.
Our love? Gone.
Our sound mind? Out the window.
We loose it.
We simply cannot function the way God wills us to function if we hand over these gifts for wreckage!

Ladies, I encourage you right now to write down the name of someone or something you are handing over power to in your life.

It may be a person you’re avoiding, therefore you’ve rerouted your daily living so not to run into this person. Stop it. Live your life with God’s power and tools. 

Are you afraid to fly? Has this fear blocked you from traveling to your dream destination, visiting family from afar, or taking that missions trip you so desperately want to go on? Stop it. While I can validate your fear, I can also validate the chances of anything happening to you are very slim and are not worth living in fear over. Live your life with God’s power and tools.  

What about relationships? Have you been so emotionally wounded that you’ve surrounded yourself with walls, even blocking out Jesus? Did I just say Jesus? Yes, I did. Often times when people are hurting, they even shut out Jesus. Stop it. I get it, I’ve been hurt as well, but in order to make an eternal impact on those around you, you’ve got to let those walls come down and let love cover. You’re going to get hurt, plain and simple. Live your life with God’s power and tools. 

Anxiety. If we give it power, it will take it. The key is to accept the power God gives us through His spirt and to stop giving power to our emotions. 

I will leave you with this biblical truth:

“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. ” ~2 Corinthians 10:5

Anxiety gets its power from our obedience to it. Let’s give God his power back in our lives. Let’s live our lives with God’s power and tools.

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Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

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Ohhh my yum! If you are looking for some good ole fashioned comfort food…Ladies, this is where it’s at! I am typically not a casserole lover, but my mind has changed after this one!

I love CCB, it’s been a favorite of mine since I was a child. This tastes just like it….but…it’s Comfy.

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Place prepared rice at the bottom, layer with swiss cheese, pour on the creamy chicken sauce, then the chicken and ham.

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For your crust combine panko with butter and bake!

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Even my children loved this one….enjoy!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
 
Author:
Serves: 15
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 1 (32 oz) chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2-3 cups shredded chicken from a pre-roasted chicken. You can used cubed as well.
  • 2 cups diced ham- you can dice you own from a ham steak or purchase it diced.
  • 2 cups of prepared rice
  • 3 cups of freshly shredded swiss cheese
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 cup Panko
  • 2 Tbsp butter
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350
  2. Spray a 13x9 baking dish
  3. In a pan, melt butter then add flour to make a paste
  4. Stir in broth and milk- let simmer
  5. Spread prepared rice in your 13x9 pan
  6. Spread swiss cheese over rice
  7. Pour thickened creamy chicken sauce over the cheese
  8. Sprinkle chicken and ham on top
  9. Season with salt and pepper as desired
  10. Microwave 2 Tbsp butter, add Panko and stir- Sprinkle on top
  11. Cover and bake 30 mins
  12. Uncover and bake an additional 15 mins
  13. Delish!

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Easy Chicken Quesadillas

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These easy chicken quesadillas are a hit for lunch, dinner or as an appetizer. Best yet, they please the grown-ups and the children alike. Once you realize how easy they are…I’m sure they will become a staple in your home as they have become in mine.

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Marinate your chicken breasts in Italian dressing overnight.

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Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Broil or grill until done. Don’t overcook or the chicken will be too dry.

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Shred Colby-Jack cheese. You can use pre-shredded cheese, but hands down, shredding your own is so much better.

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Lightly butter a pan and add a flour tortilla, place cheese and chicken on one side.

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Flip one side over.

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Cook until lightly browned.

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For a larger quesadilla use two flour tortillas filled with chicken and cheese.

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Slice with a pizza cutter and serve with your choice of dipping sauces.
You may also like to try steak, fajita veggies, shrimp, etc…a very easy recipe to alter to your taste.

Easy Chicken Quesadillas
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 1 bottle of Italian dressing
  • 2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • flour tortillas
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • butter for pan
  • salsa and sour cream for dipping
Instructions
  1. Marinate chicken in Italian dressing overnight.
  2. Season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder- grill or broil until just done. Cut into chunks.
  3. Shred cheese
  4. Lightly butter a pan
  5. Lay one flour tortilla onto pan and add cheese and chicken to one side. Flip the other side over. Lightly brown on both sides.
  6. Slice with pizza cutter and serve with salsa and sour cream. Enjoy!

 

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How I Got My Highlights to Look More Natural

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Hi Ladies!

I know, this is somewhat of a random post…but us girls like to talk about hair sometimes. I’m totally good with that.

Here’s my story. So, last year I kind of let my hair go…a “natural ombre”, so to speak. On my birthday, my sweet grandma offered to get my hair highlighted.

*Please note, as tempting as it was to enhance these pictures- I did not. I wanted you to see the real color! 

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What happened was, because my hair was so dark at the root area, my highlights looked like stripes. Not only that, my hair still had an ombre appearance and the bottom of my hair was lighter than I would have liked.

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Because I have an olive skin tone, I look better with an “overall brunette” appearance… even though I tend to like some golden highlights throughout. So, I went to Sally’s Beauty Supply to see if they had something that could help me get the look I wanted.

I was hesitant because I’ve only colored my hair at home once and it was a MAJOR mishap. The lady recommended I use a color conditioning treatment called Roux Color Refresh Mask in Brown.

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All I did was wash my hair, then towel dried it. I put on plastic gloves and rubbed the entire packet throughout my hair, combed it and let it sit for 6 mins. It said 3 mins, but I checked my e-mail and you know how that goes….

Then, I rinsed it out and conditioned it. Here’s what it looked like! I was VERY pleased. It made my hair look like one color overall with natural highlights.

I thought I would mention that they also had colors for different kinds of blonde, brunette, and red. This would be a great option for those of you who want to add a reddish tint for the Fall, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money.

Enjoy! 

 

*Disclaimer, I was not asked to advertise this product, nor am I getting paid by Roux. I am however an affiliate of Amazon. 

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Easy Chicken and Stuffing Bake

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After I had our third munchkin, my sweet neighbor Faith brought this delicious meal over and boy, was it such a blessing for a tired, nursing mother.

I enjoyed it so much, I had to have the recipe and share it with you. It’s a great “make, take and bake” meals for meal ministry as well an a delicious comfort meal for your own family. Enjoy! 

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Make stuffing however you wish. You may choose to use Stovetop or a semi-homemade stuffing such as Pepperidge Farms (follow package directions). Butter a 9×13 and place prepared stuffing at the bottom. 

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Boil chicken breasts until just done (no pink, but still juicy). Slice fat off and cut into chunks, season with salt and pepper. Place on top of stuffing. 

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Combine cream of chicken soup, sour cream and 2 cups of water in a bowl and pour over chicken. Bake in a 325 oven for 40 mins until bubbly. 

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Mmmmm…..delicious. A family favorite that pleases even the little ones! 

Easy Chicken and Stuffing Bake
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 14 oz Pepperidge Farms Stuffing (prepared) or 2 boxes of Stove Top (prepared)
  • 2 small cans of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325.
  2. Boil chicken until just done, slice off fat, cut into chunks, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Prepare stuffing according to package directions. Place at the bottom of buttered 9x13.
  4. Place chicken on top of stuffing.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine cream of chicken soup, sour cream, and water. This will make a gravy. Pour overtop.
  6. Bake uncovered for 40 mins until the edges start to bubble.
  7. Enjoy!!! Mmm....

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Banana Brownies with Browned Butter Icing

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Image 8My dear mother-in-law recently e-mailed me this delish recipe. Ohhhhh, my- WOW. These brownies are so moist and the browned butter in the icing gives it a “Bananas Foster” taste. You simply must make this recipe…it’s a keeper.

Image 2Start off with your butter, sour cream, sugar and eggs. Beat well.

Image 4Mash 4 very ripe bananas.

Image 3Add them to the mix with vanilla.
Image 5Add your flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Bake in a greased 9×13 pan in a 375 oven for 25 mins or until lightly browned.

Image 6While brownies are baking, make your icing by browning your butter in a pan like so…make sure you use medium heat and let it simmer until it’s lightly browned.

Image 7Pour butter in with 4 cups of powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Mix well. Pour over top of warm brownies. 

Image 8This is serious. 

Banana Brownies with Browned Butter Icing
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 mashed bananas
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • Browned Butter Icing
  • ½ cup butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp milk
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375
  2. Butter 9x13 pan
  3. Beat together sugar, sour cream, butter and eggs
  4. Mash bananas and add them into mixture with vanilla
  5. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well
  6. Spread in prepared pan and bake for 25 mins or until lightly browned and done in the center
  7. To make the icing:
  8. Simmer butter in a sauce pan on medium heat until lightly browned
  9. Add butter to powdered sugar, vanilla and milk
  10. Mix well
  11. Pour over warm brownies
  12. Serve warm

 

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Peanut Butter, Jelly, Banana & Toasted Marshmallow Pizza

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Image 2Ohhhh my, yum.

This is one of those dishes that you make “for the kids” and you end up eating yourself. The crust is a simple pita, so it literally takes no time at all for this delicious, toasty, peanutbuttery and melty concoction! Mmmm….it’s a recipe I make over and over again….for “the kids”

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Spread creamy peanut butter over a pita. Sprinkle with marshmallows.

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Set under a low broil in the oven until the marshmallows are lightly browned and the peanut butter is melted. Approximately 3-4 mins.

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Slice a fresh banana and place on top, drizzle with squeezable fruit spread.

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It goes quickly….

Peanut Butter, Jelly, Banana & Toasted Marshmallow Pizza
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • Pita bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Marshmallows
  • Bananas
  • Squeezable fruit spread
Instructions
  1. Set broiler to low heat
  2. Spread peanut butter on pita bread and sprinkle with marshmallows
  3. Broil for approximately 3-4 mins until marshmallow have melted and are lightly browned
  4. Slice fresh bananas and place on top
  5. Drizzle with fruit spread
  6. Serve immediately

 

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Logos Bible Software Training

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Ladies, I hope you will join us at the Logos Bible Software Training event! I will be there! We had such a blessed time with these amazing folks in Texas. You won’t want to miss it…

On September 3, Logos is hosting a free webinar to teach you how to more effectively study Scripture. You’ll be introduced to the tools used and loved by Kay Arthur, Lysa TerKeurst, June Hunt, and thousands of other women. You’ll leave feeling better equipped to study God’s Word.

“I’m stunned by its genius, thrilled that it’s easy to use. I don’t want anyone to neglect studying the Bible inductively—discovering truth for themselves—slowing down, meditating on the Word, falling more and more in love with God.” —Kay Arthur

“I have found in Logos Bible Software a gem that will help me to increase the efficacy of my Bible study and my preparation as a speaker and a writer.” —Gwen Smith

“It’s visual. It’s pictures, it’s maps. It’s like the Bible coming alive in front of you on your screen . . . I like books, but when you realize that this is all right here at your fingertips, it’s incredible.” —Liz Curtis Higgs

You don’t want to miss this! See how Logos can revolutionize your study—sign up today at http://logos.com/learnlogos.

Then be sure to invite your friends!

Facebook event or http://logos.com/learnlogos.

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Best Pulled Pork Ever {in the crockpot}

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photo 2I wish I could explain why I love pulled pork so much. It’s not the most “girlie” dish on the menu, but it sure is one of the most delicious. Adding that this recipe is made in the crockpot, pushes over the edge to my personal award of  “the best ever”.

Delicious and “comfy”  …gotta love it.

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You can serve this alone with sides of your choice {such as corn on the cobb,coleslaw, andcheesy potatoes}. Or, you can make it into a sandwich with fixins!

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Mmmm…..

 

 

5.0 from 2 reviews
Best Pulled Pork Ever {in the crockpot}
 
Author:
Serves: 10
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 5 lb Pork Butt Roast with bone
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • Seasoned Salt
  • Garlic
  • Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce
Instructions
  1. Place your roast in a crock pot and cover with vinegar and water
  2. Sprinkle seasoned salt and garlic over top of roast
  3. Add ½ cup BBQ sauce to the top of roast
  4. Turn crock pot on low for 10 hours
  5. Flake meat off the bone (this will be easy- it will fall off), place in a large bowl and add ½ cup more of BBQ sauce and mix well
  6. Serve alone or as a sandwich

 

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Heartbreaking News About Robin Williams (Anxiety & Depression)

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Hi Ladies,

A few days ago we were all informed of the solemn news that Robin Williams took his own life.

This really hit home for me for my life has personally been touched by suicide. There really are no words to explain the pain, sorrow and grief a person feels when a loved one dies this way.

As some of you know, I’m currently in my second year of getting a Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling and this is a huge reason why. My heart is very heavy for people suffering with anxiety and depression.

Today,  I’d like to welcome a very dear friend of mine, Melissa Yoak from Dayspring Counseling. Melissa shares the same compassion for mental illness that I do. I cannot imagine how many lives she has helped save through the application of professional counseling techniques.  She’s a hero. 

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Melissa says: 

Precious Robin Williams and the other one million people who killed themselves worldwide this year, I grieve for you.

I grieve that you felt so hopeless that in your mind there was no other choice but death.

I grieve for the families you leave behind.  They must have so many unanswered questions.

I grieve that your depression and/or anxiety won the fight.

These past few days, we all have been bombarded with Facebook posts, blogs, quotes, and debates—all related to whether or not suicide is selfish or whether or not depression is a disease or a choice.

In my mind I ask…who cares? Does it really matter?  Someone who feels so hopeless and helpless that they will purposely terminate their own life makes my heart break.

Someone who feels so hopeless and helpless that they will purposely terminate their own life burdens me beyond measure.  It drives my desire to help hurting people even more – cry with them, pray with them, assure them they are going to get to the other side of the pain.Unfortunately, there is still a great societal stigma on mental illness, counseling, and therapy.  As a therapist, I see it. 
 
All. The. Time. 

Please click here for the rest of this post and to see what you can do to help yourself or someone else who is suffering from mental illness….

Melissa Yoak holds a Master of Arts Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from theUniversity of Akron and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Malone University. She is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). She is married to a minister of a local church and the mother of three children.
Thank you dear friend…


 

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My Weekend @ The Women in Ministry Summit

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(Courtney, me and Darlene– Thank you to Stitch Fix for the beautiful shirt!)

Hi Ladies! I wanted to share with you what I’ve been up to this weekend. A few months ago, I got an e-mail invite to attend this year’s Women in Ministry Summit sponsored by Logos Bible Software. So, I RSVP’d with an “are you sure you have the right person?”

Humbly, I would like to share with you about this amazing weekend….

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Kay Arthur opened our session with joy, enthusiasm, humor, concern and personality. She was honestly one of the most personable people I’ve ever met in my life. Although I knew I would leave gaining much from her, I would have never guessed how much I sincerely enjoyed being around her. She is absolutely stunning from the inside out…more than possibly her readers know. I felt so comforted, accepted, and encouraged by her.

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Not only did Logos Bible Software give us a free download, they also took precious time teaching us how to learn it, and provided this special weekend for us. They gave us a delicious welcome bag filled with goodies when we arrived the first night.

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Heidi St.John and Sally Clarkson were also at our table. Amazing and absolutely beautiful women who have hearts for the Lord. It was such a blessing spending time with them.

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My “roomies” with Kay! Courtney from Women Living Well and Darlene from Time Warp Wife. Ahhhh….love these women.

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Heidi and I getting “photo bombed” by Ray from Logos. We were cracking up! Logos is made up of the most kind and genuine people- they were so fun to be around and did an amazing job putting on this conference.

What a sweet blessing to meet Heidi- she is so inspiring, beautiful, and kind.

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Ahhh….Jen from Unveiled Wife! I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to not only meet her but spend quality time with her. She has the most precious and obedient heart for God…I honestly cannot say enough about her. She has a new fan in me.

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Every time Darlene and I get together we laugh about the differences between US and Canada- she had no idea what a “jo-jo” was. So, we did what we always do and laughed.

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I also wanted to share with you an excellent idea for your get togethers! Logos supplied us with a “Trail Mix Bar” during our time between meals. Isn’t this great!?

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It made me think about how often women get together and feel anxious about making something to bring. What an amazing idea to simply ask everyone to bring a jar of 1 ingredient and place it on a table like so? 

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Sweet and savory is my favorite. Thanks again Logos!

 

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More “Cost-Comfy” Containers

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My last post brought in some great responses and suggestions on how to be “cost-comfy” delivering a meal ministry. I went over to my local “Dollar General” to show you some more examples of how to get the most from your money when packing up your food items. 

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Foil pans are the most common in meal ministry.

Here we have 1 pan for $1.25 (or 2 for $2.50). Depending on what you make in these, you can use them over again. For example, if I were making a fruit salad– I would wash it and keep it. However, if I were baking mac n cheese- not so much. The foil changes shape and doesn’t hold well after baking. GFS sells these quite a bit cheaper. 

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These ones were $1 a piece.

To be honest, I’m not in love with these for meal ministry, however I do purchase them when I am helping with an event. They are great to pack up left-over food to send home with people at the event. For example, when we have a bridal shower and there is half a cake left- I bring small foil containers and send a piece home with guests.

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I spotted this cute little serving tray for $2 and had to share. This would work great for chocolate chip cookies wrapped in plastic wrap, then tulle, finished a bow. Inexpensive enough to give, yet pretty enough to keep! 


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Bah! Just say NO!

I know it’s tempting…but don’t even go there. These tupperware containers are reusable and fine to purchase for home use, but don’t spend the money on them for meal ministry- unless you want to give them away (which is totally fine). 

The bowls above, however would work great. You could make some dirt pudding and wrap it up with plastic wrap and give it away. That is a $4 difference! (That’s a little over a gallon of gas!) 

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Again- $7 for one tupperware container. Grrrr…..this is Dollar General! I’ve seen this same container double the price at a chain supermarket. 

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I saw these cute little colanders for $1 and thought they would be great to wash cherries in and give them away with the container. They can be used again and are sturdy and cute. 
I hope these posts have helped shed some light on how to get the most bang for your buck! I’d love to hear more from you on your ideas! 

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How to Make “Meal Ministry” Affordable

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One of the most common questions I get about meal ministry is about the cost. Food is expensive, but not only that the cost of packing it up can be just as expensive. Some throw-away containers are more costly than glass containers that can be used over again.

Here are a few examples I found at Marc’s that I wanted to share with you. When you’re out and about- keep your eyes peeled, then just stock pile good deals away for when you might use them.

It saves money and just makes sense.

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Look at these beautiful cups with saucers- for just $1.99 for a pair! I immediately thought “Housewarming gift” – buy 6 for just $12. 

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This fruit bowl is adorable. For just $2.99, you can’t purchase a throw-away for under that. I would fill it with fruit salad for someone who is not feeling well and let them keep the dish. 

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The beautiful dish I shared at the top of the post was just $2.99 – again, a throw-away is pricier! I would make a calzone and wrap it on this plate and let my friend keep it. 

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Do you know of a child who could use a “pick me up”? These little sundae bowls are precious. For just 99 cents, I would buy 6, bring over ice cream and some toppings….

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Creamed Chicken Crepes are one of my most sought after recipes- but they are hard to transport! For just 67 cents a piece these crepe dishes are worth buying.

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Isn’t this a beautiful tray? If you have more than one thing to transport $4.99 is a deal. You could unload it and keep it yourself, or give it as a gift with the meal items. 
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This cute little basket was $4.97 – it would work great filled with sugar cookies for a little girl who isn’t feeling well.

Where do you get the best deals?! 


 

 

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How to Roast Red Peppers

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Hi Everyone! I’m going to show you an easy way to roast red peppers. I know many of you have your own gardens and are bursting at the seems with these deliciously sweet and savory veggies. Sometimes the hardest part is knowing what to make with them! Well, here’s a recipe you can save in your mind…it’s that easy. I’ve made them this way for years! 

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Start off by rinsing, slicing in half and taking the seeds out of your peppers. 

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Roast peppers on a low broil for 5 mins, turn then roast for another 5 mins. Keep in mind that some ovens roast quicker than others. You’ll want to peer through the glass to make sure your peppers aren’t burning. 

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Use and oven mitt to take peppers out and immediately place them in a large Ziploc bag. 

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You can see here how the bag steams the peppers. Before we did this, the peppers were roasted, but still crunchy. This is going to soften them up a little…

IMG_3978Pour olive oil in a medium dish and add fresh garlic, salt and cracked pepper. 

IMG_3982Slice your roasted peppers and add them to the mix.

*If you do not want your skins on, you will need to refrigerate your bag of roasted peppers, then the skins will come off easily before slicing.

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Serve with a crusty bread and use the garlic oil to dip! Delicious.

How to Roast Red Peppers
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 6 red peppers
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • salt and pepper
  • Bread for dipping
Instructions
  1. Set oven to a low broil
  2. Wash and slice peppers in half
  3. Roast in oven 5 mins a side- watch carefully!
  4. Take peppers out of oven and put in a large Ziploc bag
  5. Let steam for about 15 mins
  6. If you want your skins off place the bag in the refrigerator for about an hour
  7. Slice peppers
  8. In a medium dish combine olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper
  9. Stir together and serve with crusty bread

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Winners of “And Life Comes Back”

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Congratulations to the following Ladies:

Sarah Hogan

Robyn

Shannon Sheppard

Please e-mail your full names and mailing addresses to
JMNehrenz@me.com for your free copy!

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Salad Galore @ Women Living Well

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Ladies, you won’t want to miss this salad spread over at Women Living Well! Some of my favorite get togethers have been salad potlucks! Enjoy!

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Easy Iced Coffee

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Ahhh….it’s cool, creamy and caffinated. What’s not to love about this deliciously easy, iced coffee? Serve it as a treat on a warm and sunny afternoon or save money and replace it for your drive-through “guilty pleasure”.

If you’d like, add a little caramel syrup to the mix and it will taste very similar to an iced caramel latte.

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Brew 4 large cups of coffee individually from your Keurig and pour them into a large liquid container. The large cups are equivalent to 10 oz each, so this would be 5 cups of coffee if you’re using a traditional coffee maker.

IMG_3958While the coffee is still hot, pour in 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup of cream. Taste -add cream and sugar to your liking after that. Fill the rest of your container up with ice.

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Refrigerate until ready to drink!

Easy Iced Coffee
 
Author:
 
Easy Iced Coffee Author: Janelle Nehrenz Prep time: 10 mins Total time: 10 mins Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 5 cups of strong coffee (4 large individual cups from your Keurig)
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar (more to your liking)
  • ¼ cup cream (more to your liking)
  • ice
Instructions
  1. Pour hot coffee into a large liquid container
  2. Add cream, sugar and water- Stir
  3. Taste and add more cream and sugar to your liking
  4. Add ice and keep refrigerated until ready to serve/drink

 

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An Art Themed Birthday Bash!

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Hi Ladies!

One of my dearest friends, Julie, is here today sharing birthday party photos of her sweet daughter. She is such an intentional mom who desires to create memories for her children…one thing that really inspires me is that she does this all on a budget!

Her invites: 
{Cheaper than most cards and useful!}

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Julie says:

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Because my daughter loves art, we thought to have an Art-themed birthday party for her! We made a rainbow cake…

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…had lots of colors of kool aid for “Creative Juice”…

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Rice Krispie treats turned into chocolate covered paintbrushes and of course we had some art projects to do!

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We melted crayons on canvas’ which is all over Pintrest and we had a contest of who could paint the best “dessert” with a creative border–we also “painted” tee-shirts and I had all the things they needed for these projects all tied up cute with a red ribbon!

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  They loved all the balloons and paintbrush decorations and I marked all their spots with cute popsicle stick easels with their names on them! 


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The girls had a great time and could have stayed for a few more hours! :)

Thank you so much for sharing this fun day with us Julie!  

 

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Make Your Own Sub Night!

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We are in “the depths” of Baseball season and let me tell ya- life is busy. So many times we “just go with it” when it comes to dinner (anyone relieved I said that?). My kiddos love “make your own sub” night. This particular night I had the kids help me make a large sub then sliced it, but often times I’ll get individual sub buns and let the children make their own.

This is also a great idea for company or pot lucks!

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My family likes salami, maple turkey, mozzarella, and pepper jack.
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Place open under the broiler until the cheese is melted. Add any additional fixing such as lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, mustard, and/or Italian dressing.

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Slice and serve!


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Serve sandwiches with chips, a salad and fruit and you have yourself a winning meal!

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Shortcut Smores

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Mmmm….I don’t know a single soul who could say “no” to a smore. These “Shortcut Smores” are no exception. Swap out graham crackers and chocolate bars for E.L Fudge Striped cookies and you won’t be disappointed (it saves money too!). 

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All ya need is a box of cookies, a bag of marshmallows, a stick and a….

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flame.

IMG_3736I know everyone likes their marshmallows a certain way. Me? I like mine roasted until the center is melted and the outside is a nice caramel brown. 


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It’s the little things in life.

Mmmmm….

May you have many Summer nights filled with children running around in PJ’s, lit bonfires, fireflies, smores, sticky fingers, and lots of love.

Shortcut Smores
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 box of E.L. Fudge Striped Cookies
  • 1 bag of large marshmallows
  • sticks
  • bonfire
Instructions
  1. Toast a marshmallow at the end of a stick.
  2. Make a sandwich with two cookies and the roasted marshmallow in between.

 

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{Rhodes} Chicken Philly Stromboli

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Hi Ladies! This recipe is one of my husband’s favorites. I don’t know if it’s the pipping hot Rhode’s bread, the creamy melted swiss, or the tender chicken that makes this a winning recipe. You be the judge. But, trust me on this one- it’s delicious! 

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Dice red and green peppers and onions. 

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My favorite brand of swiss is Guggisberg. I don’t know what they do differently, but there is a tremendous difference compared to other swiss cheeses.

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As you may know, I am a fan of shredding my own cheese. It does make a difference! Bagged cheeses have additives in them such as flour and saw dust (yep, not kidding).

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Let your dough rise according to package directions. 

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Cook your marinated chicken like so. 

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Roll out your dough like so…. 

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Add ingredients.

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Carefully close up and brush with egg whites. Lay Stromboli on a lined baking sheet and place in a 350 oven for approximately 20 mins or until lightly browned.

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{Rhodes} Chicken Philly Stromboli
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 loaf of Frozen Rhodes Bread.
  • 4 Chicken breasts diced and marinated in Ranch dressing.
  • ¼ cup each (diced) red pepper, green pepper, and onions.
  • 2 cups of shredded swiss cheese.
  • Egg white for brushing.
Instructions
  1. Thaw and let bread rise (ahead of time) according to package directions.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  3. Cook diced chicken in a large pan or wok.
  4. Roll out dough into an oblong shape on a floured surface.
  5. Add veggies, cooked chicken and swiss cheese.
  6. Seal dough and brush with egg whites.
  7. Transfer Stromboli to a covered baking sheet and bake for 20 mins or until lightly browned.



Mmmmm……

 
This post was sponsored by Rhodes Bread, one of my favorite baking products. For more delicious recipes, you simply must visit their website and blog (I’m there today!) . It’s amazing how many things you can make with their products. 

Like them on Facebook and Twitter, or follow them on Pinterest for updates, ideas, and potential coupons! 

I’ve showcased Rhodes rolls, Hot Crossed Buns, French Toast, and Easy Cheesy Calzones

What have YOU made using Rhodes Bread?! 

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Narnia Night!

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One of my favorite novels is C.S Lewis’, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. It’s not only enjoyable for children and adults alike, but also references the Bible throughout the chronicles. If you haven’t already read this with your children- it’s a must! If you have, you’re going to love what my dear friend, Julie did with her children. She is one of the most intentional moms I have ever met….

Here’s her story: 

I decided to have a fun “Narnia Night” with my hubby and kids. I was going to set it all up and do all the planning and decorating and gave myself a budget of $30.00 (not including dinner because I would have to fix dinner anyways )

 We love all things Narnia! We have all 7 books, all the movies, have rented the really old cheesy movies from the library, and have listened to the audio series of all 7 stories countless times! We have our favorite movie posters hanging in our basement and yes, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is by far the most awesome one hanging…sorry hubs but it really is better than Star Wars! Ha!

To create the scene, I started gathering up ideas and talked them over with my hubby and we came up with a fun evening! I knew I wanted the basement to be decorated with trees, snow, and most importantly a Lamp-post! So I got out our Christmas trees, (we have two) and borrowed one more and set them out and put snow on them. Snow was just cotton batting from the craft store! I blew up 2 bags of white balloons and put them all over the floor and covered our 2 black couches with white sheets.
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My mom had a cute candle holder that would look awesome with a bit of tweaking as the lamppost. So I asked my dad to build a stand for the candle holder to sit on—real simple—basically a 2×4 attached to a base and a small square piece of wood at the top for the candle holder to sit on.  I then spray painted it black.  It looked great!!! Just what I had envisioned!

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Upstairs, I wanted a regal tent like the one Aslan is in in the Disney version of the Movie! I wanted lots of reds and golds! I found fabric remnants at Walmart (remember my budget!) and tied them up above my kitchen table to look tent-like. I put fabric on the chairs too and set the table as fancy as my poor dishes would allow! I borrowed fancy glasses from a good friend! (We didn’t eat anything fancy—my kids wanted lasagna but we ate it on fancy plates! Ha)

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Now the decorations were complete and we could start our fun night of Narnia activities!!!

We started the night off by eating dinner under Aslan’s tent and telling the kids what the night was going to hold! After dinner we had a scavenger hunt with clues all relating to Narnia for the kids to do.  At each clue they would find another clue and so forth. We just totally made it up and it took them all over the house and outside! They had a ball doing this little “hunt”!

 After that we took them downstairs where they had to walk through the “wardrobe” at the bottom of the steps… okay so it was a whole bunch of our winter coats hanging on a coat rack but hey, they got the point!

We then started watching The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe… 

When the movie reached the point where Edward is offered some hot cocoa and Turkish Delight we paused the move and enjoyed….yes, some hot cocoa and Turkish Delight!!!! I went to Goodwill and found some cups that I turned into “goblets” by spray painting the bottoms silver and added “jewels”!!! I did NOT spray paint any area where they would drink,  just the plastic bottoms!  And for the Turkish Delight, well I had no idea how to make that so I found a recipe online and asked my amazing friend, Janelle, who can cook anything to help me out and make a batch!

So we all drank our delicious hot chocolate and tasted the Turkish Delight. Lets just say that my kids said the Turkish Delight wasn’t really a delight! Ha, but we had fun tasting it!! (thanks again, Janelle)    

We then continued to watch the movie surrounded by our snowy trees and lamp-post.

When the movie got to the point of Father Christmas giving out gifts we again stopped the movie and all sat on the floor.  My sweet husband then pulled out a “Father Christmas” bag and told the kids that he too had gifts to hand out.

Now these Father Christmas’ gifts were not awesome Nerf guns to play with, or the latest and greatest toy….they were gifts that represented each person and their character. Together we decided on a Godly characteristic we wanted to highlight in each of our children’s personalities and what “charge” to give them along with a gift to represent that quality/charge.

For example, we gave one of our daughters, (who is a very loud, fun, and did I say loud child), a megaphone with a written “charge” to always be a loud voice for the gospel. We wrote out the charge as well as a verse to go along with that charge. In this case, it was Ephesians 6:19.  We typed them out fancy on resume paper and had them laminated beforehand to give them.

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So my hubby would pull out the gift from the bag and address each of our children individually and give them their charge and their gift, just like Father Christmas did in the movie.

This was a very special time and to this day all three of my kids have their “charge” taped on their bedroom wall!  I love this kind of reminder and accountability to display Godly wisdom and character!!

After this we finally finished the movie and then for the last activity we moved upstairs to play a game of “all things Narnia” Jeopardy!  Now you could make this up on a white board but we had access to an actual jeopardy game that you can play on your TV. I had a separate category for each of the 7 books and then a misc category! The three kids had so much fun competing and playing this…I couldn’t believe how well they did with all the trivia! My youngest ended up winning and we had an amazing night and hopefully lots of memories that will last forever!

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All in all, I stayed under budget, borrowed what I didn’t have from good friends, spent fabulous quality time with the family, encouraged each other spiritually,  and now how to come up with a Star Wars night…..or not. 

 

Thank you so much for sharing this idea with all of us Julie…your children are so blessed to have such a creative and fun mom. As far as the Turkish Delight….I agree, I am not a fan- hahaha! 





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Triple Berry Cobbler on TWW

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Hi Ladies! Summer is almost here and those delicious ripe berries are on sale! What better dessert to make for your family and friends than this amazing Triple Berry Cobbler. Serve it with a cool dolop of vanilla bean ice cream and there will be ahhhs and smiles all around. Thank you to my dear friend Darlene at Time Warp Wife for sharing this recipe. 

If you haven’t already been over to Time Warp Wife, I highly recommend browsing around. Darlene offers amazing wisdom for the journey in marriage. She’s also a New York Time’s Best Selling Author ….not to mention one of the most giving people I know. 

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Easy & Refreshing Cucumber Salad at WLW

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Hi Ladies! Come join me over at  Women Living Well where I’m sharing this easy and refreshing Cucumber Salad recipe.

I don’t know about you, but making salads is my least favorite thing to do in the kitchen. This salad is not only an easy fix- but it can be made ahead of time leaving more opportunity to get your main entree finished. My entire family loves cucumbers, so it’s a winning recipe in my home! Enjoy! 

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Pan Fried Pound Cake

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Mmmm…..frying pound cake in butter gives it a crispy outer crust that is just heavenly. Add fresh strawberries and a scoop of cool vanilla bean ice cream and you have yourself a most delicious Spring dessert. Invite friends over to share!

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Let your favorite pound cake recipe (or you can use Sarah Lee’s in your grocers’ freezer) cool. Slice evenly.

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Butter and toast on both sides. You may also add a sprinkle of sugar to caramelize the texture.

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Enjoy!

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Extra Thick Strawberry Milkshakes

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It was a beautiful sunny afternoon when I picked up my munchkin from preschool today. As soon as we walked through the door, our air conditioned home greeted us with grace.

My daughter looked at me and said, “Mama, I’m going to make us some milkshakes!”

Being that I’ve always taught my children “meal ministry”, when they say they’re going to make me something….I let them! So, I stepped aside and watched this precious little 5- year- old get out the exact ingredients she needed.

She always amazes me with her kitchen skills……
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Precious little angel of love, munchkin, buttacup, I just want to kiss your little sweet face, ooooo… I can’t even stand it, I just love ya! 

(Yes, I talk like this to her in real life.)


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Great job!!! (I taste test too, it’s ok)

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Looks delicious….cool, refreshing, sweet and creamy! Mmmmm…..

IMG_3683A precious moment… A warm day, my baby, and a milkshake. What more could a mom ask for?

Extra Thick Strawberry Milkshakes
 
Author:
Serves: 2
Prep time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup of frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup milk
Instructions
  1. Blend ingredients together and enjoy! Mmmmmm....

 

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I Love Stitch Fix!

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 Ladies do I have exciting news! But first, let me tell you a little secret…..I dislike to shop. If you’ve never heard me say that before, there ya have it! haha. I don’t know if it’s decision making, not knowing what I look good in, or just plain spending money on myself- for some reason, I have never enjoyed shopping for clothes for myself. Well, my dream of having my own personal shopper has finally come true when I found out about Stitch Fix! My sweet friend Ruth over at The Better Mom always looks so fashionable, I asked her where she buys her clothes and this is when I got hooked….
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What is Stitch Fix?

Stitch Fix is a service where you are assigned your own personal stylist who chooses clothing and jewelry for you.  When you sign up, you fill out a style profile so that your stylist has an idea of what you like to wear. After you select the first date you would like your fix, you will receive 5 items in the mail (in a cute box :)). You are not obligated to purchase any of them, but you are charged a $20 styling fee. This $20 is refunded if you purchase any one item. I LOVE that with each piece of clothing they include a card that gives you ideas on how to style that particular piece. Once you try your items on, select what you would like to keep and then return the rest in a pre-paid envelope. Note: There is a waiting list, but once you are signed up for Stitch Fix they will send you “fixes” as often as you would like.

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Overall, I loved all the clothes Stitch Fix sent me. I especially loved the “recipe cards” showing me how to pair and match items.

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If you don’t like something or anything- no worries! There’s a pre-paid and addressed bag enclosed. Put all the items you don’t want in the bag and throw it in the mailbox. Check out online to purchase the items you want to keep. The $20 styling fee is applied to your purchase!

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What a great experience….and I didn’t even have to go into a brightly lit dressing room! Wohoo!

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This beautiful chevron 3/4 sleeve shirt was my favorite! I also loved the cheerful necklace that accompanied it. Great job Stitch Fix! I can’t wait for my next shipment…..

If you would like to sign up and try Stitch Fix you can Click Here

IMG_9568 A HUGE thank you to my dear friend and mentor Julie (pictured center) for taking my photos. If you live in the NE Ohio area, I’d like to refer you to In His Image Photography. Julie is such an amazing photographer and so good with little ones! (Julie, I know I’m embarrassing you-I’m sorry, you know I think the world of you and I can’t help to boast about you!) This is a photo she took of my daughter…one of my favorite pictures ever.

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Beautiful Spring Wreaths

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I don’t know about you, but when I don’t have a wreath on my door I feel as though something’s missing. To me, a wreath says “welcome” and gives a festive little touch to the entrance of our homes. 

Yesterday, I got a special surprise for Mother’s day….it had me in tears. My dear friend Nikole came over with this handmade wreath. She knows that our son is a travel baseball kiddo and we are in full-fledge baseball mode right now. She had me in tears!!! 

What a thoughtful gift! 

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I just love it! 

Nikole is busy making these adorable wreaths at her Etsy store online….She can make them in any color, for any sport and personalize them with your child’s name and number...or like mine, you can have your last name on them for a front door wreath. These would also be adorable on a child’s room door! 

This encouraged the little leaguer in my home when we drove home from school yesterday! He noticed immediately!!!

 This is such a great gift- I’m so grateful for this surprise. Thank you Nikole!!!! You made my day yesterday!

(I’ll be adding this to my baseball Pinterest board!)

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Knowing  that I love anything “kitchen”,  I HAD to showcase this beautiful kitchen wreath!!! My personal kitchen is decorated with lemons…it’s my favorite motif! I also love burlap…..so creative and adorable! Again…LOVE IT!

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And need I say more about this fun and festive beauty? Perfect for a front door, child’s room/bathroom, and/or pool area! This is so fun, isn’t it? 

You can visit Nikole over at Poppies Blossoms on:

Etsy
Facebook
Pinterest

She has offered a $5 off discount to anyone who wants to make a purchase when they mention “Comfy in the Kitchen” – Thank you so much Nikole!
I love promoting people with home businesses who are working hard to provide for their families. It means a lot more to me than to purchase something from a store. I’m so proud of Nikole and admire her hard work and creativity! Job well-done, my sweet friend. 

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My Favorite Aldi’s Products

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Hi Ladies!

Not too long ago I mentioned that I recently made the switch to Aldi’s. It has literally cut my grocery bill in half! Some of you have e-mailed me asking what my favorite products were at this store, so I thought I would share this information with everyone! Here we go…

The Pizza
By far, this is my favorite product….

091212_5565_CheeseDeliPizza_DI completely trust and recommend the “Mama Cozzi” brand.  This pizza is absolutely delicious. For just $4.49 you get a 16″ pie, which feeds my family of five dinner and lunch the next day. I’ve also taken this to families for a quick and inexpensive meal ministry…

 

The Produce

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You can’t beat Adli’s prices on produce! They also offer organic and locally grown- it’s so worth making an extra trip for the savings in this department.


The Coffee
031914_43786_SpecialtyRoastCoffeeCups_DHere we have 12 cups of Beaumont coffee for $4.99, which is about half of what I used to spend. This coffee is just as good (I promise-I love my coffee and am very picky.)

Other Products I Buy

Baker’s Corner brand for baking needs.
Stonemill Pure Vanilla Extract is absolutely delicious.
Eggs
Milk
Bagels
Bread
Happy Farms Cream Cheese (just like New Philly)
German chocolate! (so much less expensive and way better- a variety of brands are offered)
Ice cream (Butter Pecan)
Jarred peaches (for peach tea)
Nuts
Ranch dressing
Peanut Delight Peanut Butter (just like Jif)
Tortilla shells
Cheeses
Frozen seafood
Bacon

On average, I spend about $125 a week on groceries (you know how much I cook) at Aldi’s, which is about half of what I used to spend at other grocery stores. However, I do typically purchase most my meats at a butcher. I am extremely pleased and recommend Aldi’s! I hope this helps some of you with your fear to cross over. It’s been worth the $500 a month is savings for my family!

 

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First Fitness and a Special Recipe (Taco Ring) !

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Hi Ladies! I have a special guest with me today. Allow me to introduce to you Sheran Newell from First Fitness. Sheran is a Christian, a wife of 15 years and a mother to 2 beautiful girls. She loves spending time with her family, reading, and staying fit!

Sheran is a lot like me- she’s a girl of moderation. She may splurge here and there, but she also makes sure to balance her life with healthy choices and exercise.

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Sharen says:

“Although I try really hard, I don’t always eat the way I know I should. Before I joined with First Fitness, I purchased them from my family from my Sister-in-Law. I quickly realized the difference in the way we felt and the energy we had….I was sold and knew I had be a part of this amazing company

There are so many products First Fitness supplies that help with general nutrition and physical comfort. Not to mention weight loss, herbal cleansing, sports nutrition, skin care and body care!

If you know someone who has a baby with colic then Biomega is the answer. It’s a delicious whole leaf Aloe Vera drink that contains over 120 vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, phytonutrients, and antioxidants that supports good digestive health and whole body wellness. I give my children Biomega for all the vitamins in it and it actually taste awesome… I have to keep my kids out of it!

I personally love the Women’s First Essential Vitamins, they are an advanced multi-vitamin and mineral complex for women with specially targeted nutrition supporting the female reproductive system. They get me through the day without being tired and make me feel great!

My husband just started back to the gym and is on the Men’s First Essentials. This is an advanced multi-vitamin and mineral complex for men, with specially targeted nutrition supporting prostate and testosterone levels.  He has been able to get through his day without being so exhausted. *Did you know that many young men suffer with low-testosterone and don’t know it? 

Are you also on a journey to living a healthier and happier life?  If so, please contact me. Additionally, if you’re interested in making more money for your family this has been a huge blessing for me personally and I know it can be for you too.

Now, Janelle asked me to share a recipe and as I said- I mentioned that I don’t always eat the healthiest choices. But, that’s ok in moderation, right Girls? This comes from Pampered Chef and has been a hit for years in my home. When I take it to church for small meetings everyone loves it and asks for the recipe! They can’t believe how simple it is. It’s the ever famous….”Taco Ring“! Enjoy!”

I’m sharing the original recipe, but over at The Taste Place, you can get a lighter version and photos on how to make it!”

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Thank you so much Sharen…I love the information you gave to all of us. My little guy suffers from a stomach emptying delay, I may have to try Biomega for his reflux. Thank you again, so much!!! This recipe looks like a WINNER!!! Mmmmmm…. I WILL be making this soon!!!

 
Author:
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 (1¼ ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 3 cups Lettuce, shredded
  • 1 medium tomato
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup pitted ripe black olives (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Cook ground beef in large skillet over medium heat 7-9 minutes or until beef is no longer pink; drain.
  3. Remove pan from heat.
  4. Stir in taco seasoning mix, cheese and water.
  5. Unroll crescent dough; separate into triangles.
  6. Arrange triangles in a circle on Classic Round Pizza Stone with wide ends overlapping in center and points toward outside. (There should be a 5 inch diameter opening in center.)
  7. I use my Pampered Chef pizza stone, but any flat round pan should work--perhaps even a pizza sheet, but I'd spray it with Pam before adding the crescent rolls.
  8. Scoop meat mixture evenly onto widest end of each triangles up over filling and tuck under wide ends of dough at center of ring. (Filling will not be completely covered).
  9. Bake at 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Shred lettuce and chop tomato, onion, olives, and bell pepper (if desired).
  11. Add your toppings to top of ring and finish with more shredded cheese and sour cream.

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Pancakes with Homemade Blackberry Syrup (Cracker Barrel Copy Kat)

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IMG_3659 I was eating breakfast with my dear friend Melanie when started talking about what we craved while we were pregnant. Mel mentioned how she craved Cracker Barrel’s to pancakes topped with hot blackberries . Ooooo….that sounded so good!!! So,  I just had to take a “crack” at making them myself. So, in honor of pregnancy cravings and friendship- here’s the recipe. Mmmmmm……

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 Smoosh 2 small cartons of blackberries like so… (thank you, girls- great job!)

*As we were smooshing, we talked about how people used to dye their clothing with berries just like these!   

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After about 3-5 minutes of smooshing…this is what you’ll get. 

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Pour into a medium saucepan placed on medium heat. Add sugar (this is how I measure when I don’t blog- the truth comes out!) 

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Take some of your syrup out and add cornstarch to make a paste. Add it back into the pan and stir until liquid thickens slightly. 

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Mmm….pipping hot and steamy sweet blackberries- ready to eat! 


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Ladle on top of your pancakes with butter and enjoy!

*You may wish to add maple syrup as well….
*I have a delicious recipe for applesauce pancakes inComfy Cooking with Kids“, and my all-time favorite boxed pancakes are Krusteaz (as shown). 

Pancakes with Homemade Blackberry Syrup (Cracker Barrel Copy Kat)
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 2 small cartons (8 oz each) Blackberries
  • 1-2 Tbsp sugar (to liking)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
Instructions
  1. Place blackberries in a bowl and smash with a fork until you get a chunky liquid
  2. Pour in a medium saucepan on medium heat
  3. Add sugar
  4. Take a small amount of the liquid out and add cornstarch to make a paste
  5. Add paste back into liquid and stir until slightly thickened
  6. Pour over pancakes and serve with butter and maple syrup (if desired)

 

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My Little Chef Using my Favorite Skillet!

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Yesterday I posted on FaceBook this sweet little part of my day….

While I was putting laundry away upstairs, I smelled something cooking. Being that I knew it was just my 5-year old and me at home- I immediately booked down the stairs!

Ohhhh, to my surprise- would you just look at this?! She made Eggs in a Nest– ALL BY HERSELF!!!! She got the skillet from above the refrigerator (scary), plugged it in (even more frightening), then made the entire recipe perfectly from start to finish.

My first reaction?! I picked her up and squealed with excitement!!! I was so proud at what she could do all on her own!

She said, “Mama, I’m so proud of myself- I’m like Matilda….you teacheded me!” How could I rain on her parade? I made the decision to march in it and rejoice with her accomplishment.

It did make me nervous to know she was around heat by herself, so we had “the talk” about inviting Mommy to the next cooking session, but I have to say…this was impressive.

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Under all the comments, I had some ladies ask what skillet I use- so, I thought to post it here. I love it because it doesn’t flake, is easy to wipe clean, and frees up space on the stovetop. Here’s the description:

This Oster Griddle with Warming Tray is designed with a unique and innovative Dura Ceramic non-stick coating that last 4X longer than standard non-stick coatings and won’t flake or peel. The Dura Ceramic surface provides exceptional non-stick performance and lasting durability. The safe and natural ceramic coating is PFOA and PTFE free as well, so you can griddle pancakes, eggs and more without worry. The Dura Ceramic finish cooks up to 20% faster to get you eating quicker and it easily wipes clean! This Oster griddle features a large 10″ x 18″ cooking surface so you can conveniently prepare meals for the entire family and a warming tray to help keep foods at ideal temperature until you are ready to serve. Removable, adjustable temperature control accurately sets cooking temperature to achieve desired results when cooking a variety of foods.

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If you want to learn how to teach YOUR little ones how to cook- I recommend reading my latest ebook, “Comfy Cooking with Kids”. It’s a great beginner book for children of all ages. GREAT NEWS- It’s currently being offered at a reduced price of $2.99 at checkout! 

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Mother’s Day Lunch Menu

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mothers day lunch

Hi Ladies! If you’re planning a Mother’s Day lunch- look no further! I’ve done all the planning for you. A soup/salad and dessert menu is just the way to go to please the dolls in your life. If you need a helping hand (which we all do), make sure to send invites over from Perfect Potluck and add a link to this page for your helpers!



Best Ever Black Bean Soup

With over 78,000 pins on Pinterest- you know this soup is a winner! This is my mom’s personal favorite :)

Simple Italian Wedding Soup 

A meal in itself, this hearty soup will be sure to please.

Easy Peesy Broccoli Cheesy Soup

My personal favorite! Mmmm….a comfort