Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday

There are always things to be thankful for, take a moment to consider how the Lord has blessed you, even in the simple things that make your day a little more pleasant. This is what I am thankful for today.

  1. Warmer weather, we have had spring like temperatures and sun the last two days and it has really lifted my spirits
  2. Daffodils are popping up out of the ground in the yard
  3. The smell of chocolate permeating the house, I have snacks tonight and am baking brownies
  4. Boxed brownies that I found on special the last time I went to the store (I bought 4)
  5. A birthday celebration last weekend
  6. Youngest son was able to come home for a few days
  7. I have a Secret Sister praying for me for the next two months. Secret Sister is an annual event for our ladies group.
  8. My previously hard to manage blood pressure is responding well to the most current medication change with minimal side effects. Praying the results I get at home will be duplicated when I see my physician next month. We also now know what probably caused my pressure to go up in the first place
  9. A flock of squawking birds in my neighbors yard....sign of spring?
  10. Being able to listen to the bible on computer while I read it, there is just something about hearing the Word while I read it.
  11. The days are getting longer...another sure sign spring is close
How about you, do you have a day that's not going quite as planned, finding yourself a little blue or discouraged. Take a moment, do it now, think about the many things you have in your life to be thankful for...it will change your attitude, it does mine.

Happy Birthday to my sweet husband

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Valentines and Birthdays

We had a real treat this past Valentines Day, we got to spend the day with the "Girlies" Aren't the tutu's adorable, their Aunt made them from netting that she slip knotted over ribbon, the two ends of the ribbon tie together around the waist and voila...instant tutu. I was asked if I could please take photos, which you know I was only too happy to do.

Then Saturday as  I was finishing getting dressed my bathroom door popped open and I heard a little voice say " I'm back" it was Little Red. I wasn't too surprised, the plan was for them to come over for the day with their brother while the guys went to a men's breakfast at church and their mom and my oldest grand daughter went to a cheerleading competition. It was a busy and full day, ending with a family dinner and birthday celebration for my husband. By the end of the day I was tired but in a good kind of way

Husband didn't have a special request for any particular cake so I made a Chocolate Chip Cappuccino Coffee Cake, it' not the prettiest...had trouble getting it out of the pan, but it was delicious. ( I had to have a tiny piece even though it's not dairy free) I have included the recipe which is from the Cake Doctors Returns, one of my favorite cookbooks.

Chocolate Chip Cappuccino Coffee Cake

For the chocolate chip streusel
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons melted butter

For the cake
Vegetable oil pan for misting the pan
flour for dusting the pan
1 package plain vanilla cake mix
1 package vanilla instant pudding
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee or water
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping
1 tablespoon confectioner sugar
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350
2. Make the streusel: place the brown sugar, pecans, chocolate chips, flour, cinnamon, 2 tsps cocoa powder, and the melted butter in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Set The streusel aside.
3. Lightly mist a 12 cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust with flour. Shake out excess flour and set pan aside.
4. Place the cake mix, pudding mix sour cream, coffee or water, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low until ingredients just come together, about 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter is thick and smooth. 1 1/2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. Pour 2/3 of the batter into prepared Bundt pan and sprinkle half of the streusel mixture on top of the batter. Pour remaining third of the batter on top of the streusel and using a rubber spatula spread the batter to reach the side of the pan. Sprinkle the remaining streusel on top. Place in the oven.
5. Bake the cake until the top springs back when lightly pressed with finger 45-50 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool 10-15 minutes. Run a long sharp knife around the edge of the cake, shake the pan gently, and invert the cake onto a serving plate, so that the streusel stays on the bottom of the cake. Let the cake cool completely 25-30 minutes longer.
6. Make the topping. Place the confectioners sugar and 1 tsp cocoa powder in a small bowl and stir to combine. Sift the mixture on top of the cake, then slice and serve.

Hope you try it, you won't be sorry.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Winter Opportunities

I can hardly believe it is snowing again. The weatherman says it's going to end up being a rain event but I'm afraid the snow part is happening during rush hour, so husband will have to drive home in it.

This winter has been colder than I can remember in a long time and even though we haven't had as much snow as most, the cold weather has kept me a little homebound and a little restless. My first reaction has been to complain...I really don't like the cold and it's hard for me to "be still"  Complaining tends to be my default mechanism but the Lord has been convicting me about complaining AND that I don't always have to have something on my schedule outside the home to do.

I could should be thankful for these quieter days. I have time to read and listen to podcasts, time to finish some half done projects, time to try some new recipes, or just recharge physically. (I could even reorganize some closets although I must admit that's way down the list)

This is where the Lord has me, it's time for me to take the a hold of the "bloom where you are planted" quote and enjoy these quieter winter days

Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me  Psalm 119:133

Monday, February 10, 2014

Winter Produce

Doesn't this look yummy? Husband and I had the opportunity to purchase a winter basket from the CSA we joined that starts this spring. Don't know what a CSA is, we didn't either, but found out it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. This is how our CSA works, we signed up with the farmer in December (the CSA had only so many openings) paid a fee up front for the season (this gives the farmer money to plant)  once the growing season starts, we'll get a 1/2 basket once a week with whatever happens to be in season. Our growing season is long so we will start getting produce in early May and it will continue through Thanksgiving. We decided to try this because we are trying to contain food costs and eat healthier. Our goal has been to eat less processed food.

We are really excited about getting our first spring basket and a little intimidated. My husband is most excited, he says seasonally is how he ate when he lived on his grandparents farm, I'm the one who is more intimidated, my vegetable repertoire isn't that good but it's improving since we have started eating more seasonally. I have learn to cook (and like) braised kale, collard greens and brussels sprouts. Carrot parsnip soup and roasted beets are two of my favorite new recipes. I think I'm up to the challenge, but could someone please tell me what in the world do you do with a turnip?

Hope you're keeping warm...I am ready for spring!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Smile Please!

I have been taking group photos of the grandchildren for several years now. Most of the time it's impromptu, I get them on the stairs or we go out for an excursion and I snap some photos. Sometimes the photos turn out, sometimes they don't, but part of the fun is in the doing.

Well the grands all came to spend the night about a week ago, so you know I had to try to get a group photo of all of them. First we tried going outside, I thought the colorful clothing would be nice in a photo but it was too cold and windy for anyone to enjoy themselves, plus the reflection on the snow made the photos too over exposed...nice try 

I wasn't ready to give up so we went inside and tried again.

Having fun

No one is crying

Got it!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Days Are In His Hands

Apparently oversized Wellingtons are not the best footwear  for trudging through snow, or perhaps I am not used to walking in the slippery white stuff. (wait, it's not meant to be walked in right?) At any rate, I managed to strain my back during one of my snow adventures last week.  I knew snow was meant to be admired from the warmth of my cozy home, but I was compelled to experience it up close and personal and am now paying the price for my excursion.

I am still able to get around,  but have been slowed down considerably, AND it's taking longer to get better than I would like. Throwing my back out did not fit into MY plans and I am finding that I am more than a little annoyed about it. The truth is I have been really frustrated, and just plain irritated that this happened and my attitude has reflected as much. We had two quiet homebound days last week because the snow shut everything down, but now I had things to do. I had MY plans!

The Lord was faithful to remind me that "my times are in your hands" Psalm 31:15

If this is true, and I believe it to be so, then this bump in the road is part of his plan. After I got to a point of surrender, I was able to think of things that I could be thankful for, in the midst of this newest dilemma.... my husband was home, he was able to drive me,  and I was able to get a short notice physical therapy visit, and I have remained mobile. (not always the case in the past)

I am sure I will have to remind myself again, and again that my times are in his hands (I am sure several more times today, at least) but for now I am content knowing that he is in control.