Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mary's Story: part 1

With Christmas right around the corner I've been spending time studying Mary and Joseph, their relationship and the way that God cared for them leading up to the time Jesus was born.

It's so hard to imagine what is was like for Mary. She was engaged to the man of her dreams, the excitement and gittiness about the future filled her heart and mind everyday. She and Joseph must have dreamed together, planned a future together and imagined their new life as husband and wife.

Mary was a virgin and for Joseph to be the two of them to share that very intimate night together for the first time was something they had been dreaming about and anticipating with innocent anxiety. Joseph loved Mary and could not wait to express that love in a completely different way with her. He was ready to be her man, her white knight, protector and providor.

Just the same, Mary respected Joseph. She honored his decisions and was ready to show him her respect by sharing something only a husband could receive. She couldn't wait to make a home with him and was ready to take on the role as the akaret habayit, or mainstay of the home. Joseph, a carpenter, was going to build them a home together and Mary was ready to fill and nurture that home.

But before any of that was supposed to happen, there was going to be a wedding! A glorious wedding to show the world how much they loved each other and to begin building their family with a solid foundation of marriage built first.

God had other plans....

Right in the middle of the planning and gittiness and anticipation comes an angel with news that changes everything!

“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
"Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1: 28-33

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fab Food Friday (on Sunday)

I made this dish on Friday as an experiment when Chris' family came over for a post-thanksgiving meal.

I wasn't really sure how it would turn out so I didn't take any pictures. was delicious and so simple to make.

White Bean Soup: 2 Ways 
From Gwyneth Paltrow's My Father's Daughter

3 tbs EVOO
1 fennel bulb, stems and fonds removed, use bulb thinly sliced
1 lg yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 lg cloves of garlic
pinch red chile flakes
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 14oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 pints veggie stock

1. Heat EVOO in soup pot over medium heat. Add the fennel and cook for 10min, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the onion and garlic, let soften for 30min as low as can go. Stir once in a while.
3. Add the chile flake, oregano, and peppe.
4. Add the beans and vegetable stock, bring to a boil, then let simmer for 1 hr.
Add S&P to taste

With Kale
Stir in one bunch of kale leaves torn into bite sized pieces and let cook for 7min. Ladle into bowls and drizzle with the very best olive oil.

French Onion Soup Style
Ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls. Float thick slices of toast on each bowl and pile on the Parmesan cheese. Put the bowl sin the broiler until cheese is bubbly. (About a minute)  

P.S. Shout out to Gwyneth's hubby...the new coldplay album Mylo Xyloto is AMAZING

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Contribution

Here's what I'm contributing to the Thanksgiving table this year from Cooking Light Mag. Totally easy, affordable with just 5 ingredients, and a really great source of nutrients!

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chipotles


6 medium sweet potatoes, unpeeled (about 3 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon finely chopped chipotle chiles, canned in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 green onions


1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Pierce potatoes with a fork; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done. Cool slightly. Cut each potato in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Combine potato pulp, butter, chiles, adobo, and salt in a food processor. Finely chop white bottom part of onions; add to pulp mixture. (Reserve green onion tops.) Pulse mixture 5 times to combine.
3. Arrange potato shells on baking sheet. Spoon potato mixture into shells. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until hot. Thinly slice green top part of onions, and sprinkle over potatoes

Monday, November 21, 2011

98yr old man writes a book!

If this man can publish, why can't I? Or you?

a place to call home

Finally able to share some photos of our new place. My dad came down yesterday and totally helped us re-arrange and I love the new set up. He has such an eye for that kind of stuff.

Still struggling to unpack everything. It's hard to fully commit while in the back of my head I know we'll be packing it all up again. But I'm trying to live in the moment and I certainly feel more settled when things have a place.


Dining/Living Room
 Living Room (Rachael Ray on TV of course!)
A fun chalkboard and photo display in the cafe/kitchen
 One of my favorite rooms- the office

Master Bedroom 
We also have a guest bedroom but I got a little distracted with this.... :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bubbling Over

Let me just paint the scene for you...

Chris and I have just come back from a morning work out. Cooked a delicious BBQ pizza lunch and now are sitting down at the kitchen table together for some afternoon work time. The sun is streaming through the windows so strong and sweet Harvey is snuggled up at my feet. The smell of sugar cookies fills the air (from a yankee candle) and I am just boiling over with joy.

A feeling of contentment and peace that has been absent from my heart for many months. I have tasted it in small pieces but the feeling here is lingering and I know that he Holy Spirit is near.

I have so many unanswered questions about what next in my life but feel so confident of God's provisions now more than I have ever before.

I know it's wrong to put such value on material possessions, but there is something about moving into this house that has changed so much for me. The walls are feel warm and the rooms feel welcoming and hopeful of new beginnings.

Praise the Lord for his faithfulness!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fab Food Friday!

This week's recipe comes from my sweet friend Mary Beth. She used to make these delicious pumpkin chocolate chip muffins every year around this time.

I remember coming over to her apartment and seeing what looked like hundreds of mini muffins filling the counter. I made a huge batch this year and added a few tweaks...they were a huge hit!

Start by these ingredients in a mixer:
3 cups Splenda
4 egg beaters
1 cup veggie oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt

Then add these ingredients one at a time mixing as you go:
2 cup canned pumpkin
3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup water
1 tsp baking soda

Fill muffin tin about 3/4 of the way full and top with mini chocolate chips.
Bake 350 for 15-20min. This recipe makes about 2 batches of full size muffins and 4+ of mini muffins.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Homemade Christmas Gifts

I know it's early since our holidays last year were a bit rushed I am really looking forward to soaking up every last bit of Christmas cheer!

Starting with a search for the perfect homemade christmas gift idea. My friend Stephanie has inspired a new love of mason jars so here are a few great ideas for these multi-purpose containers.

(Click on each title to find out more about each gift)


fourlonggirlfriendcookiesNFF copy

Cranberry Cookies in a Jar copy


Peppermint Stick Cocoa Recipe


What are your favorites? Got any other homemade holiday gift ideas?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Purest White

Last night I spent some time scrubbing down my favorite white rocking chair on our back porch. The rocker was a gift from Chris for my 16th birthday. He surprised me by flying home from college with flowers in hand sitting in a sparkling white rocking chair I had been wishing for.

At our old apartment the winds would come rushing across the field and bring dirt all over our patio furniture. So it was about time to give the rocker a bit of a shine. After spending a good 30min out there scrubbing all the nooks and crannies I stepped back to survey my work and realized I had missed the entire back side.

There was a very visible line of dirt where my scrub brush had missed making it very obvious how dirty the poor chair had gotten. How could I have missed that part?

I am so greatful that when God cleanses us of our sin he doesn't just choose the places that are the most visible to the rest of the world. He goes deep into the heart and washes away every nook and crannie leaving only the purest of white.

What a joy to know that as dirty as we may feel on the inside, covered with soot the winds of our humanity carries, that he never misses a spot. Smiling as he wipes away every sign of damage.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Browsing through Recovery

Finally feeling able to sit down to the computer for a while. My wisdom teeth surgery went extremely well on Thursday. Thank you for all your prayers.

I was diligent with the ice and meds and didn't have any swelling at all and was able to manage the pain pretty well. The hardest parts are still first thing in the morning when the medication has worn off through the night, but all in all it has been much easier to recover than I anticipated.

Plus this is a great time of year to be on a soup only diet!

I thought I'd share a few of the sites that I've been drooling after these days.

Loralee Lewis: my event planning idol! Check out these adorable pictures from her latest event a "Gratitude Tea"
Thrifty Military Wife: While I am by no means an insane couponer, I do transforming great finds from good will. Jennifer has got this down to a science and always posts about some pretty sweet deals! Been doing my best to organize my own coupons and even found these 2 great jackets for only $10 total from a shopping trip at good will!

Clean Mama: Becky from Clean Mama is an organizer's dream! She has some great printable grocery lists, cleaning checklists, menu planners and other great tips for keeping a stress free home.
Jenni Catron: I've been reading Angie Smith's What Women Fear and have been watching the bloom book club on (in)courage which is where I came across Jenni's site. She works at Cross Point Church in Nashville and has a real heart for inspiring Christian leaders. I would love to follow in her footsteps one day.
There's No Place Like Here: I got this adorable Save the Date in the mail this weekend and am just bubbling with excitement for my friend Stephanie's wedding to her boo David. Stephanie is an art teacher shares the highs and lows of her new life in the art room.
Olive Bungalow: This jewelry is just plain beautiful!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

St.Mary's Open House Showcase

A few photos from the St.Mary's Open House event this past weekend.
Registration Table

Student's lockers were covered in thse little signs

We filled the halls with photos and quotes from alumni

Sunglasses and Lanyard Giveaways!

Sweats & Stuff on Sale


Picture yourself as a SAINT

Friday, November 4, 2011

FAB FOOD FRIDAY: Chipotle Chicken Stoup

While the 31 day October challenge is over, my love of cooking is still going! So allow me to introduce "FAB FOOD FRIDAY". Each Friday I'll share a recipe and encourage you all to post a comment about something fabulous you've eaten this week. Should be a fun game!

BTW- I could use your prayers on Thursday, I'm getting my wisdom teeth removed and would also love to hear any soft foods you know of that I could eat but still get protein. (pudding and ice cream for a few days won't cut it)

To kick things off we have a one pot wonder- 
1 lb chicken tenders, halved
1 tsp crumbled dried oregano
1 tsp vegetable oil
15.5 oz can hominy (like large corn used to make grits)
14.5 oz can chicken broth or stock
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tbs chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 cups sliced romaine lettuce
1/2 cup chopped radishes

Step 1: Sprinkle oregano and S&P on the pieces of chicken you've dried with a paper towel.  Heat the oil and in a skillet and cook the chicken all the way through. 5min.
Step 2: Add the hominy (drained), broth, cilantro, and chipotles and bring to a simmer. Cook 1 minute and spoon into bowls with lettuce and radishes (optional).