Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One word.

A few years ago, rather than choosing New Years resolutions that will last all of 4 weeks, I decided to choose one word to focus on for the year. Don't get me wrong, goals themselves aren't a bad thing when they're broken down appropriately, and they're at least somewhat in reach.  But one word, gave me more of a focus-- my one word way back then was "submit" and I grew closer and closer to my God that year as we encountered bumps in the road and I was reminded to submit.

This year, we've decided to have a family word and a family focus for the year.  After prayer and thought, we decided on the word "Intentional."
-Intentional in our parenting, including activities, daily tasks, and discipline.
-Intentional in our relationships with each other, family, friends, co-workers and even strangers.
-Intentional with the giving of our time and money.
-Intentional with our relationship with God, our time with Him and our studies. And...
-Intentional with the care of our bodies, what we eat and how we exercise.

Can't believe that 2013 has come to an end so quickly, but we are so excited for the adventure of 2014 and how we will grow as we become more intentional with our lives.  
                            *Image credit year27.com

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Cake Feature

I am being featured today with this Christmas cake over at Going Green with the Grizls! Go check it out here and have a fabulous Christmas!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Annual Holiday Treats

Spent the majority of yesterday in the kitchen working on our annual holiday goodie/treat bags.  A fun tradition for me, and also many of our friends begin to ask about he holiday treats as we get closer to Christmas.  This year the majority of goodies will be going to Daniel's squad as they work through Christmas, and I made a few extra bags for some friends and family.  For the most part, the treat bags have the same stuff each year, but I also like to try something new once in a while.

This years treats include--

Snicker doodles 

Peppermint Lollipops- original tutorial Here.

Chocolate Dipped Snowballs-- my grown up version of rice Krispy treats.  Same recipe but made with honey bunches of oats instead of Rice Krispies.  And then partially dipped in chocolate Candiquik.

Amish bread (A slice of cranberry orange and a slice of apple cinnamon in each.) Original recipe found here.  

Christmas Cheer Mix- a mix of multigrain Cheerios, M&M's and peanuts smothered in vanilla Candiquik. 

15 bags in all filled to the brim with treats for our friends.  I think next year I should probably include a little something savory too.  Do you bake certain treats for the holidays?  Do share, I'm always looking for new inspiration!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Delicious No Baste Turkey

This year, we found ourselves at home for the first time ever on Thanksgiving! As the years pass, it has become more and more difficult to coordinate schedules with parents and siblings.  Daniel has 2 brothers, each married and each have 1 child.  I have 3 siblings, 2 married and both have at least 1 kid, and though my brother isn't married and has no children, he works for Nascar and traveling makes his schedule a little chaotic.  So when we were 1st married, our thanksgivings consisted of eating two huge meals-- one with my family and one with Daniel's family, and now it just doesn't work as well as it used to.  Everyone has other family to see and kids have schedules of their own, so it just happened to fall this year that my family got together the weekend before and Daniel's the weekend after.  I anticipated us having at least one place to attend on thanksgiving, but that's not how it panned out.... Which in all honesty I'm ok with.  Because as much as I love family and spending quality time together, as the schedules veer away from the actual holiday just a tad, it opens the doors for us to celebrate as a family and create some new traditions. 

So we made our very 1st turkey this year, and I know what you're thinking-- "Your 1st turkey and you're sharing the recipe like you're an expert?!"  So, no, I'm not an expert! No where near close, BUT I have eaten a lot of turkey's over the years, and I have eaten some good and some dry not so good.  In fact, I never really liked turkey that much because it's always so dry.  So when this turkey turned out so well, I was quite shocked, and thought I'd share how I did it.  

To say I was nervous about making the turkey is quite the understatement.  I've never done it before and not only did I not want to ruin our first thanksgiving together, but I'm also incredibly cheap and would've been beyond frustrated if I spent $15 on a turkey and it not be edible.  Weeks out away from thanksgiving I was busy preparing, buying ingredients, making to-do lists and researching recipes.  And my, oh my!  Don't get me started on turkey recipes.  Google was beyond overhwhelmimg.  I read nearly every recipe I found and it just made me more anxious--- all the recipes are SO different!  People are very opinionated about brining, not brining, foil, roaster bags or nothing, an array of seasonings, cooking times ranged from 2 hours to 12 hours, oven temps ranged by the 100's.  It was all quite obnoxious.  

I wanted desperately to make the turkey "right," but with such a variation in recipes, how was I to know what was right? So, I took a little of this and a little of that from SEVERAL recipes and made it my own way, and it turned out lovely! 

And since it turned out so well, I couldn't resist picking up another turkey a couple days after thanksgiving on clearance.  Cooking it up today so we can eat on it this week as we lead into Christmas and the chaos of hopping from gathering to gathering.  

-Apples (I used gala)
-Baby carrots
-An onion 
-Olive Oil

So start out with your turkey in your roasting pan, and roughly chop onion, carrots, and apples.  If it gives you an idea, we had a 13 pound turkey and I used 2 apples, a few handfuls of carrots and about half the onion. 

Arrange them around the turkey in your roasting pan and stuff several inside.  

Then coat your turkey generously with olive oil and throw on some fresh pepper, sea salt, dried rosemary and ground thyme.  (Season to your liking.)
Cover/tent with aluminum foil and place in the oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, reduce the temp to 325 and cook for 15 minutes per pound.  The last 30 minutes of that time however, you will remove the foil so that it can brown up a bit. 
Once the browning time is over, check the temperature of your turkey to see if it is done.  If so, remove from the oven and place the foil back on.  It's very important to let the turkey rest, if you cut it right away, the moisture will escape.  Plus this gives you some time to bake off your stuffing. 

After it's rested, carve away and enjoy! Easy peasy, no basting, no in and out of the oven, no obnoxious timers, no special seasonings or bags, no brining and super delicious and moist! 

This is the point where I intended to have a photo of my full plate of delicious food including stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, and green beans.... However, I ate it.  I devoured all of it, so you'll have to take my word for it. :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Weeds Grew....

Aside from my challenge group and a few friends that diligently follow my progress, I don't think that anyone noticed my lack of an 8 week post on progress for Turbo Fire.  I should've posted an update and photos last week, and since I've always prided myself on honesty and being an open book to the world, here's why there was no post.... I let the weeds grow. 

Let me explain, I'm in a Bible study every Wednesday morning with a small group of women.  The study we're doing is "The Amazing Collection" and it truly is amazing.  We're going through the entire bible, book by book in 6 semesters, that's one book of the bible each week.  I'm in the first semester and so we've gone from Genesis to 2 Kings book by book, and recently in both 1 Samuel and 1 Kings, we've talked a lot about the heart and what we fill our hearts with.  The bottom line is, when you aren't filling yourself with good things, bad things are growing.... 
... It's been incredibly convicting, because I haven't been filling myself with good things.  I joined the Bible study because I was yearning to grow and learn more, and because I wanted the accountability of other women, and then I've totally bombed at getting my studies done.  

And last week as I sat there quietly (because I hadn't finished my homework and had nothing to share) I sat there listening convicted about my studies, but also convicted about my work outs too.  I've had so many women tell me how motivational my posts have been and even in the last few weeks tell me that I'm doing a good job and the last few weeks, I haven't even done anything.  I haven't done anything in a MONTH! I can sit here and list every excuse I've had for the last few weeks (and some of them are quite good) but the bottom line is, the weeds have grown....

... And when those weeds grow, it is so hard to overcome them.  It starts out with missing a day, and you think, "Oh it's just a day"... Then one day turns into a week, turns into two weeks, turns into three.... And by the time you miss that many, it's a difficult leap to come back. 

BUT, praise be to God for His infinite grace!  He loves me so much no matter how many times I fail Him. (And I always do.) Praise be to Him, that a month later I can run to Him with open arms, diving into 2 Kings, and He receives me!! He has His arms open too!!! 

And the same thing for my work outs, the DVD's are sitting there just waiting for me to come by and hit play.  So on this day, Monday December 9th, it is time to chop down some weeds, the weeds in my heart need to go, and I'm ready to jump some hurdles, dig up some motivation and get back to working out too. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving Days 21-30

.... The last of the thankful leaves from Leeland....

Day 21: He means our Operation Christmas child box.  Sweet! 

Day 22:

Day 23:

Day 24:

Day 25: We already said "blankets" one day but he got a new one from his Nana

Day 26: It only took 26 days to get here...

Day 27:

Day 28: Grandparents!

Day 29:

Day 30: Daddy brought home Donut World, so naturally...

.... And with that, thanksgiving is over friends! I guess next year we'll be writing down for both Leeland and Hayden! On to Christmas! :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving Days 11-20

So I mentioned in my post for days 1-10 about how I've tried to let Leeland come up with his own ideas and what he's thankful for each day, but I have a confession... Daniel and I may have persuaded day 11 just a tad. Mostly because Leeland hadn't really heard the word "veteran." After a nice conversation about what a veteran is and who are some veterans we know, he happily helped me write veteran down on the leaf.  Yes, did I mention that before?  Leeland is really into trying to write these days, so we both hold the marker and he likes to help me write each day. So here's what we've got for days 11 through 20--

Day 11--

Day 12--

Day 13--
^^ After a spontaneous visit to the doctor for antibiotics for an infection of his lymph nodes. I had no idea they could even get infected?!

Day 14--

Day 15--

Day 16--

Day 17--


Day 19--

Day 20--

Days 1-20 complete, and I couldn't be more proud of Leeland! So much to be thankful for now and always.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Operation Christmas Child

I have always loved Samaritan's Purse and everything that they stand for. They are a ministry that helps and gives to those in need in the name of Jesus.  Often times when there are natural disasters, they are some of the first ones on scene to give supplies or help, but while meeting those physical needs are also the ones ministering and sharing the gospel. Daniel and I spent a week in New Orleans with Samaritan's Purse a year after hurricane Katrina. (Fun fact, that was when I guess you could say our love "blossomed"... Shortly after we got back in town our relationship status changed to officially dating.) 

Another ministry they do at Christmas time is called "Operation Christmas Child" where people are asked to fill a shoebox with items for kids in need around the world. OCC has always been near and dear to my heart, but has recently become even more important to me so that we can show the boys how to give to other children at Christmas time.

I brought home our shoebox from church a few weeks ago, and Leeland was very curious about it, mostly because he likes playing with boxes. We started to explain that we would fill it with toys and hygiene items for another kid, and to my surprise he did NOT like that idea. He wanted toys for himself and not to give to other kids. I was a little shocked and saddened by his initial reaction, but after more thought, I guess I should've expected it. It's human nature really-- to want want want, but only for yourself. We're all selfish! It's Christ who changes and transforms our hearts and minds to want to help others. 

.... Needless to say, we had several conversations about the box before he began to come around.  The fact that he wasn't so keen on the idea to begin with is just more the reason to participate to show him how to give....
I'm happy to report that today he was very excited to help me shop for the shoebox, and was even quite opinionated about what the shoebox needed. We chose to shop for a little girl in the age range of 2-4, and this is what we came up with--
Wooden blocks, wooden lacing cards, a coloring book with crayons, teddy bear, bar soap, rubber duck with wash cloth, toothbrush and toothpaste set, 2 pairs of socks, and some underwear. (And we tossed in one of our Christmas cards with a family photo of us.)

We ended up with a very full box we had to tie closed. 
So proud of our Leeland and all of the help he provided.  I look forward to packing many more Operation Christmas Child boxes as a family in the future. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Days 1-10

I'm not sure where it started, I would guess Facebook, but I've personally participated in "30 days of Thanksgiving" for the past 2-3 years. The idea is that everyday for the 30 days of November, you state something you are thankful for. It reminds me of Ann Voskamp's "1000 gifts" and it is a lot of fun and offers perspective. 

This year, it was very important to me to get Leeland involved. In years past, he has been too young to understand, but this year we are battling the "I wants" hard core....  It's human nature really, we're all incredibly selfish without Christ, but I guess I was so alarmed because I didn't expect the "I wants" to begin so early.  He was spouting off a laundry list of items he wanted for his 4th birthday a week after his 3rd birthday. I love that we have such generous friends and family who love to shower and spoil our boys for their birthdays and Christmas, but it makes it really hard to teach thankfulness. 

The hope is we go through this 30 days of thanksgiving to help prepare his heart for what's to come. He's so excited about Christmas coming (and I am too), but I want him to enter this holiday season thankful for what he has and not anxious about what he will get.  

Since he's only 3, I knew a visual would be of importance, so I cut out leaves and hearts out of construction paper, and we've been writing something we're thankful for down everyday and attaching it to a long piece of yarn, creating a garland. (I wish I could remember where I found the display idea, not sure if it was a Pinterest, a friend, a catalog... But it's really cute and working well.)

This is what Leeland and I have come up with each day--

Day 1 & 2--

Day 3--

Day 4--

Day 5--

Day 6--

Day 7--

Day 8--

Day 9--

Day 10--

I've done my best to let him choose what we write down each day and he definitely keeps me on my toes. I will admit to asking him the question ("what are we thankful for today?") more than once on some days because a lot of times his 1st response is whatever object catches his eye in a room first. Haha! 

It's been interesting, and he keeps me on my toes with some of his responses. This will definitely be a nice addition to our family traditions.