Friday, July 24, 2015

C.S. Lewis and Craziness

   I didn't really have the best day. Let's be honest: I haven't really been having an amazing summer. It might look swell on Facebook and Instagram (I'm kind of old-school, and I tend to only post the "good" stuff-I save the whining for the blog! ;) ) but it has been far too busy for my tastes, and I feel like I haven't gotten to do any "savoring"-only flying from one activity to the next with plenty of hiccups and missteps sprinkled in. Definitely FWP, I know! So, I spent a considerable portion of my afternoon partying-I mean the pity kind. And to distract my self from my "too much fun" woes, I did what any self-respecting person with an iPhone does: I got on Facebook.

    How in the world did I think *that* would make me feel better?! The first two stories in my newsfeed? These horrific murders in Oklahoma-two brothers killed their parents and siblings, and the breaking story of a shooting spree in a Louisiana theater. And this all comes amidst the recent allegations that Planned Parenthood is in the business of selling baby body parts. (Sorry, but that was NOT surprising, just sickening and sad.) WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD?!!!

    Sadly, all those messes did put my trifling "problems" in perspective, but I was still feeling pretty down. Kind of like when you complain that you have been suffering with a cold and someone says, "Well, at least you don't have cancer!" Because *that* just makes you feel alllll better, amiright? Except, not really, because you still have a cold, which makes you whiny, and now you are feeling sorry for all the people in the world who have real problems, and being all depressed that you can't do anything about it.

  So, I turned off Facebook, after posting this verse, (because I 100% believe that the Word is appropriate at all times and for all reasons). And tried to carry on with real life. That thing I keep complaining about, you know?

  And my kids were clamoring to read "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe", because like any intelligent thinkers, they are powerless to resist C.S. Lewis' brilliant storytelling. And they begged for another chapter, so I read two. And I began to think about how awful Narnia was. We had just finished the chapter where they find Mr. Tumnus' tossed home. (Sorry, I guess I should have posted a spoiler alert for the two people in the world who haven't read The Chronicles of Narnia.) Things are really grim, and because "this ain't my first rodeo" so to speak, I know that things will only continue to get worse. They will find much greater evil than a ransacked house. And it will shake them up.

    And it is scary-to face the reality that you are a child and you cannot possibly know how to get yourself out of  a situation that you did not create, and are seemingly helpless to control. Where things keep going wrong. A world where it is "always winter but never Christmas".

   And doesn't that just feel like the world we live in? Always dreary, often frightening, sinister and cruel-where those in power are bent on our destruction, and it seems that in addition to being at cross purposes with all our ideals and morals, our very lives are at stake. But see, you and I, being the savvy readers that we are, know this: it is all just stage setting. It is all just a build-up to the final, glorious climax. It seemingly takes forever, you realize that especially when you are reading it out loud to small children, but these details are painted vividly for a reason: it will make the triumph of good over evil all that much more delicious.

   Because we all know the good guy wins! Don't get me wrong: I am not saying that God promotes murdering, thievery, and wanton disregard for His law just to prove a point, or make the finale even more grand, but we do not need to lose hope.

"One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as He promised. So be very careful to love the Lord your God." Joshua 23:10-11 (NIV)
   We aren't in this all alone-we need to not lose hope. We have been promised that in the end WE WILL WIN. The crux of the whole thing is this: we just need to be very careful to love the Lord. The impossible is possible with Him-grandiose endings are kind of His thing. Just as it took insane trust for the Pevensie children to believe that Aslan could deliver not just them, but all of Narnia, it takes the doesn't-make-sense-in-the-eyes-of-the-world faith to believe that one can rout a thousand. And I don't know about you, but I would have never guessed that Narnia would be saved in the manner it was.

   "All shall be done, but it may be harder than you think."  C.S. Lewis, I am quite certain, did not write those words only for children. He knew, as any believer does, that God's ways are not our ways.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my wayhigher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9

   Today, all seems wrong with the world. It will take an insane amount of trust to believe, that in this completely crazy world, that Someone can come along and make everything right. And that He may be willing to let me have a part in that. But it is so true, and the ending will be so much better than anything I can imagine or hope. I am quite certain it will be harder than I think, but there is amazing comfort in knowing that it shall all be done.

                                                                             Above all, contemplating Him,

P.S. I guess this is kind of theme in my life lately, since my last post was this one. Sorry-sometimes I get kind of fixated...or maybe I just need a lot of reminders. ;)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

It's Not The End...

    I really can't stand letting an entire month go by without posting. So, even though I am usually in bed by now (I am a *firm* believer in getting enough sleep, so I am usually in bed by 10 or 10:30 pm) I just couldn't let June slip by unnoticed.

   June certainly deserves notice, but due to the actual living of life, the recording of it has gone by the wayside, hopefully only momentarily. There was a wedding, and a recruitment to a Very Important Committee, and birthdays, and family and parties and a number of painful things that I really can't go into detail about. Posts are always swirling in my head, but they just never hit the top of the priority list. Family, and church, and friends, and occasionally this little thing we like to call laundry, definitely upset the rankings.

   And some days, lately, there is a lot more "Come, Lord Jesus", than "This is the day the Lord has made...". But I saw the card up above, and I had to take a picture, because that is just the God's honest truth-and I am not saying that in a jesting manner. Truly, I have been promised that it will all turn out for the best. And it won't be okay in the "mediocre-just-getting-by"sense, but okay in the "everything-will-make-sense-and-we-will-all-know-true-Love" sense. Because Romans 8:28 is more real than my feet at the end of my legs.

    "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

   Life is crazy. For me, at least, always has been, always will be. And I'm okay with that. I have been called according to a purpose, and it is, He is, so much greater than me. I hashtagged this pic with #alreadyknowhowitends.  I do. Thank God.  Because that card? Whoever wrote it hasn't been clued in yet: they say the Author is unknown, but I know Who it is. He gave me salvation and it comes with a promise: in the end, I will be with Him, in the perfectness of eternity, and it will be glorious beyond my imagination, because He is glorious beyond comprehension. And so, this month may not have made it onto my humble little blog, but I busy working for a Purpose, and even if it all seems wrong, in the end, it will be oh so right. It will definitely be okay. Thank You Jesus...

Monday, May 11, 2015

10 Minutes Cheese and Onion Enchiladas

     Mexican. It is my most favorite type of cuisine. I would probably eat it every day, if I could. I love spicy, flavorful food, and it fills the bill every time. I also love it because so many things are so simple to prepare.

     These enchiladas are *so* easy! I love to order cheese enchiladas at Mexican restaurants, but I could never get them quite right at home. So recently, I took to ordering them every single time we went to our favorite Mexican place and I discovered something: unlike most recipes I had found, theirs were never soggy, and they weren't swimming in sauce. And it hit me: I didn't have to bake my enchiladas! I would get better results, and faster ones, by skipping the baking! So that led me to put these together. You melt the cheese in the tortilla in a skillet, and top it with the sauce right before serving-resulting in cheesy, but not soggy, enchiladas with the perfect amount of sauce!

10 Minute Cheese and Onion Enchiladas
1/2 white onion chopped
butter for sauteing
8 corn tortillas (I used "super sized ones, that were about 6 1/2 inches across)
8 oz. Monterey jack or jalapeno jack cheese (depending on how spicy you want them), shredded
4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
16 oz. of your favorite green enchilada sauce

1. Saute the chopped onion briefly in a separate pan. The onions can be caramelized, if you like, but I only cooked mine for a few minutes because I wanted them to still maintain some texture. Set to the side.
2. While the onions are cooking, heat your sauce. Keep it on "low" while you cook the enchiladas.
3. Preheat the skillet on low, and add a *generous* 1/4 c. (or a scant 1/2 c., which ever way you would like to look at it!) of cheeses, using about 3/4 monterey jack to 1/4 amount of cheddar to the center of a tortilla. Place in the skillet. Add about 1 tablespoon of the onion in a line down the center.
4. I added 1/4-1/2 tsp. of water to the side of the skillet and topped it with the lid. Keep a close eye on it, all you want is for the cheese to melt.

 5. As soon as the cheese is melted, remove the tortilla, roll it quickly on  the plate and top it with sauce.
6. Serve with your favorite toppings-I can never resist sour cream!
     I only made one at a time, and it still only took me about ten minutes to make enough for our entire family (and Joel had three!). This is such a great vegetarian meal, truly no one even misses the meat. I added black beans and Spanish rice on the side-and some guacamole, which we ate before it made it in the photos.

      I was a little worried that because these were so easy they wouldn't be tasty-um wrong! Joel raved about them, and I will definitely be making them again-especially during the summer when I don't want to heat up the oven.

Linked up:
"Thrifty Thursday" at Living Well, Spending Less

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

     I love to make candy. I prefer it to almost any other kitchen activity. Some people find it tedious, and others complain that it is hard, but I think it is one of the most rewarding foods you can make! People just don't get excited about veggies, or casseroles, or soups they way they do about candy! And they are almost always impressed when they find out you made it yourself. So, if you are in the mood to be complimented, or you want to surprise a sweet-lover in your life, make them some candy!

    I made these truffles for a tea we had at church recently. I wanted something that would appeal to the majority of women, and I have found that dark chocolate is (almost) universally loved! Since it is spring, and the tea was just for the ladies, I also decided that raspberry would be the perfect complement. Who can resist pink?

     The key to these truffles is the cream cheese. I won't sing the praises of that most delicious ingredient right now-suffice it to say, I love it! Throw that in with just a few other things, and you will quickly have candy that will amaze and impress all your friends. 

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffles
Makes approximately 36-40 candies

5 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1 1/2 tsp. raspberry extract 
4 c. powdered sugar 
Red food dye or coloring
1 package (10 oz.) Ghiradelli 60% cacao bakings chips

1. Thoroughly mix the cream cheese and raspberry extract together. 
2. Slowly add the powdered sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring each time until it is completely incorporated. 
3. If the mixture forms easily into balls, you may want to taste it to see if you want to add more raspberry extract. Be aware, though, that the flavor will intensify as the chocolates chill, so don't add too much. I felt that after 24 hours the 1 and 1/2 tsp. amount was perfect. 
4. Add your food dye if you like. I used gel food coloring (for cakes, etc.) so I didn't have to add much liquid to achieve the color I wanted. If you are using traditional food coloring, you may have to add more powdered sugar afterwards so that the mixture will be firm.
5. Scoop mixture out by level tablespoons, and roll into balls. Place on waxed paper and freeze for 10-15 minutes, or refrigerate for 30 minutes. Don't leave them in the freezer for too long, because if they actually start to freeze, they will expand once they are dipped and crack the chocolate, and it will make the extract "ooze". They will still be tasty, but they won't look as nice!
6. Melt the chocolate according to the package directions. (Basically, in the microwave at half power, in 30 second increments).
7. Working quickly, dip the candies using two forks, top with sprinkles or edible "pearls" if desired, and place on waxed paper to set.
8. Place in fridge to set. Once they are completely hardened, they can be placed in mini muffin liners to gift, and stacked. Keep them refrigerated!

    These were a huge hit! I based them on this recipe, but found the proportions weren't tasting right. So I changed them to suit myself. And of course, I had to make them into truffles. And dip them in dark chocolate! I love it when I can start with an idea and then really turn it into something that I love. And I love these! 

Linked up:

Thursday, April 30, 2015

"Donut" You Know I Love You Bridal Shower

     I've done quite a few showers now, although the greater portion has been baby showers. However, not to insult anyone, but a bridal shower is not that different. People have the same expectations: decor, food and presents! And it is always fun to celebrate, whether for a new baby or a new marriage!

 This was an especially fun shower to plan because it was for one of my sisters. She *loves* donuts, so it was an irresistible theme choice. She also loves pink and glitz, so we tried to incorporate those, too.
 The piece de resistance was the donut hole croquembouche! I shamelessly copied this one, from "O Happy Day".  I am so glad that I did! It was very dramatic-and while it was quite a bit of work (and a little on the pricey side, but it was cheaper than a big floral arrangement!) it wasn't exceptionally difficult. It did require FIVE boxes of donut holes, though!
 My sister's fiance was an absolute wonder and delivered four dozen fresh, beautiful, color-coordinated donuts at 9:30 am so they would be just perfect! I topped them off with little flags I whipped up out of washi tape and toothpicks.
I also added a little banner that I made from colored circles and skewers. I stuck that in the bride-to-be's favorite kind: maple bars! Putting the donuts in pretty dishes added a little bit of class to these rather humble treats. 

I couldn't resist adding a little "flair" and some sparkle in her honor. I set up a "sprinkle bar" and used an amazing sprinkle set I found at Michael's and put them in cute little dishes. 

 I also added an array of dipping sauces. Yes, I know that it looks like I spelled sauce "sause", but it really is just my not-fantastic handwriting! Surprisingly, people really enjoyed using the sauces and the sprinkles!

I finished the table with a handmade tulle skirt-it took me seven rolls of tulle, but it was lovely. I hung gold circle decorations I got from Hobby Lobby overhead. My mom bought the daisies to finish things off. 
I put together a little printable of Colossians 3:14, "Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection." and decorated it with a donut printable I got, again, from "O Happy Day"-what can I say? She has cute stuff!
   We had so many donuts they merited their own table, so we had a separate table for all the rest of the food. I set up a little candy station around this cute printable. (Because we needed more sugar!)

My sweet mom and aunt thoughtfully provided all the "not sweet" things. I don't even have it all pictured here! I put these cute flags on toothpicks and put them in the food, and then I used these printable donuts and glued them to skewers to put in the flowers.

More flowers with donut skewers, a picture of the happy couple, and this cute printable (Free! So great!) graced the drink station.

We (Did I forget to mention my charming co-hostess? My next youngest sister, Katy, is the other half of that "we".) bought these pretty sparkling lemonades at Trader Joe's. It was so nice to not have to re-package them!

The coffee area was a little more plain, but this donut garland made it a little more fun! We also added colorful dots to the coffee cups to jazz them up a little. 

I made a crepe streamer backdrop for the gift table. I also made the little banner with the happy couple's names on it. So many people did such a great job with their wrapping-and clearly appreciated the donut theme.

I, of course, had to match mine, too! Another appearance of those darn adorable "O Happy Day" donuts! I put together a little breakfast in bed set-hence the tray.

My co-hostess provided the inflatable donut-it was just too fun to pass up! We put these little gold stands and some plants in the seating area.

My tasty treats! I think the sprinkles really took it to the next level, don't you? The delicious quiche and sausage balls were made by my aunt and grandmother. We also served tasty mocha punch.

We had to make sure the bride-to-be coordinated so Katy picked up these adorable donut charms and chains at Hobby Lobby. Our mom had one, too!

We packaged up washi tape wrapped votives and candy for "thank-you" gifts. We decorated the favor table with confetti with the bride and groom's names (Party City!) and I used this cute printable and some circles on skewers (It needed a little something and I was short on time!), too. The extra donuts were for guests to write messages to the couple for keepsakes. It was our version of a guestbook.

In all, I had a great time helping to put this together. It is always so wonderful to be able to bless your family with something you really love doing! "Donut" you love it when a party comes together? I "dough"!

Linked up:
"Thrifty Thursday" at Living Well, Spending Less


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