Wednesday, December 31, 2008

12 hours until a new year...

Well 2008 is almost over. It's been a good year, maybe even a great year...

I started out the year 2008 in Idaho. We had gone to visit Matt's family and sister and spent the New Years Eve/Day in a small town enjoying the hot springs! It was such a fun time. I had never been in one before. There was a foot or more of snow covering the ground and yet we got in our swimsuits and went and tried out the different pools. The mountains were all around was dark outside... Pretty amazing.

Tonight we aren't doing anything quite that "magical" but I'm still looking forward to the good company of friends as we ring in the new year together at our house.

As far as what my resolutions are for this year, I am just hoping to improve in areas that Matt and I have already been working on...

quiet time- continue to start my morning with the Lord.. I have gotten a little off track with being out of town but I plan on getting back into my routine now

Budget- keep sticking to it and continuing to put more money in savings

being Matt's wife- giving him my best, praying for him, continuing to find new ways to demonstrate my love for him

being a pastor's wife- not letting the "daily tasks" get in the way of what the Lord has called us to

being a daughter/sister- loving my parents and sister, spending quality time with them when I can, PRAYING for them

friends- invite more people into our home, practice hospitality more often

Health- continue to work out several times a week, but also watch more what I am putting into my body.. continuing to try and plan some more healthy dinners

I could go on and on.. but I'll stop there. The only thing that I'll add is that I plan on trying to just enjoy life, enjoy those around me. I have learned that you really never know what a day might bring... There are always new challenges, new opportunities..

I can't wait to see whats in store for 2009...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas with my husband

Matt and I celebrated "Our Christmas" on the Saturday before Christmas since we would be leaving town.

And this is what Matt surprised me with!!

I was sooo excited, actually I'm still sooo excited!:) I couldn't wait to use it and so that night I made a recipe that I had been dying to try... cranberry cinnamon rolls, and they were wonderful!! (I cut them so that they would go farther since I was taking them to church)

Here's the recipe: (courtesy of Katie over at Good Things Catered)

Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls

adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook


For dough
1/2 cup warm water (105–115°F)
2 (1/4-oz) packages active dry yeast (5 teaspoons)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm milk
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

For filling
1/4 cup water
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (9 oz)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon

For glaze
2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons milk

-In bowl of large stand mixer, stir together warm water, yeast, and a pinch of the sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5-10 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over.)
-Meanwhile, in large mixing bowl, combine 5 cups flour, salt, and remaining sugar and whisk to combine; set aside
-In small bowl, combine milk and eggs.
-With mixer and dough hook on low speed, add milk and egg mixture then slowly add flour mixture, stirring to combine.
-Beat at medium speed until a very soft dough forms, about 2 minutes.
-Add butter and continue beating at medium speed until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic (adding more milk or flour to achieve good consistency if needed), about 4 minutes (it will be quite sticky).
-Add dough to large oiled bowl and tightly with plastic wrap.
-Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, prepare cranberries by bringing water and 1 cup granulated sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
-Add cranberries and simmer just until they begin to burst, about 2 minutes.
-Pour through a large sieve into a bowl and cool berries, reserving syrup for another use (we used the cranberry syrup for champagne drinks).
-Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and dust with flour, then roll out into a 16-inch square.
-Stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining 2/3 c. granulated sugar and sprinkle evenly over dough.
-Dot dough evenly with drained cranberries.
-Beginning with side nearest you, roll up dough, firmly but not tightly, into a log, then pinch seam to seal.
-Trim 1 inch off each end with a large knife and discard, then cut log crosswise into 12 slices.
-Arrange slices, cut sides up, into prepared 9x13 pan, spacing evenly as they will bulk up.
-Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge overnight to rise (you can also just let rise at room temp until doubled in bulk about 1 -1 1/2 hours).
-In morning, remove rolls from fridge and preheat oven to 350 degrees while they comes to room temperature.
-Bake rolls in lower third of oven until puffed and golden, 30 to 35 minutes, then cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes.
-Meanwhile, stir together confectioners sugar and milk with a fork until smooth.
-Drizzle over buns while still relatively hot.
-Serve buns warm or at room temperature.

And here's just a couple other pics from that morning:)

(Matt and Aldo)

(my other gift from Matt, he went and picked these out by himself at Pier 1- a table runner and place mats (the place mats are reversible)!)

I'm back!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! Ours was very nice! We had a great time visiting with family and friends. We are back home now and are in need of some major reorganizing! All of our Christmas goodies and luggage are just laying around and we have company coming over Wednesday, so I feel a major cleaning evening coming on!

We have also had a few setbacks this week, which is making everything a little more interesting at our house. Matt's car broke down, our garbage disposal is leaking pretty badly (and we can't seem to figure it out) and last night our dryer broke. Ha, Good times:) We had fun trying to find places to put all of our wet laundry last night!

Plans for this week are a little up in the air, Matt won't be around for dinner tonight or Tuesday night, Wednesday night is our New Years Eve party and Thursday we are meeting a friend for dinner! I'm actually REALLY looking forward to next week and getting back to normal! I really miss cooking!

As far as goals... :

-daily quiet time
-put away luggage/Christmas gifts
-buy lightbulbs for bathroom
-try and figure out dryer situation
-try and figure out garbage disposal
-clean house!
-grocery shop for party
-buy new eye glasses!
-ENJOY my day off on Thursday!
-get back on a workout schedule- atleast 3 times this week!

I'll post more about our Christmas as soon as I get some pics uploaded! How was your Christmas?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Well, its almost Christmas:)

Normally I post a menu for the week and a list of goals. This week I'm not going to. For one I don't really have a menu since we will be headed out of town and really my only goal for the week is to enjoy my time with my family this Christmas.

So the only thing I've been meaning to do but haven't yet was post pictures of our Christmas tree and a few of our decorations around the house...

Here they are:)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Open House

This past Sunday Matt and I hosted our first Christmas Open House. We have always wanted to have some sort of Christmas party at our house but have always decided against it b/c our house isn't very large. This year we decided, who cares! We thought an open house would be nice for one since people were able to come over when it was convenient for them and also we thought it might help with the space issue.

Here is what I had on the menu:

hot chocolate
ice water

mini red velvet cupcakes
cranberry orange bars
pumpkin, choc. Chip,oatmeal cookies
peanut butter cookies, w/ kisses
Andes mint brownies
Christmas sugar cookies

crackers w/ hot peach cream cheese dip
Sweet Pepper pinwheels
BBQ meatballs
veggie tray w/ dill dip
summer sausage, cheese
assorted crackers
spinach and artichoke dip w/ tortilla chips

chocolate covered pretzels

I have to admit, come Saturday I was feeling a bit overwhelmed! I think I was in the kitchen baking for about 6 hours! Everything came together though and we had a great time! Even with poor weather we had 45 people come over! It was a really nice time to catch up w/ everyone. Now Matt says we need to do this every year:)

Ok.. and I have to admit one more thing.. I didn't make EVERYTHING from scratch. For instance, these red velvet cupcakes above.. I used a mix:( BUT, I did make the cream cheese frosting which was soo easy and sooo good!

Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Confections of a Foodie Bride, adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
8 oz cream cheese (no need to soften)
5 Tbsp butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Cream cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on med-high speed. Sift the powdered sugar after measuring. Add the powdered sugar to the bowl in batches, beating on low until just combined and then beating on high until desired consistency is reached. For a stiffer icing, add more powdered sugar.

I did make both the fudge and pretzels and both are so easy! I sat them out in the living room for something extra to munch on.

CARNATION Famous Fudge

Estimated Times:
Preparation - 10 min | Cooking - 6 min | Cooling Time - 2 hrs refrigerating | Yields - 24 servings (2 pieces per serving)


1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup (5 fl.-oz. can) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

LINE 8-inch-square baking pan with foil.

COMBINE sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

STIR in marshmallows, morsels, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until marshmallows are melted. Pour into prepared baking pan; refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into 48 pieces.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels:


Almond Bark- white or chocolate or both:)

Easiest Directions Ever:

Melt almond bark. (Careful not to burn! Follow directions for melting on package!) Dip pretzels and lay on wax paper or foil to dry. If you want to add sprinkles do so rather quickly b/c almond bark dries very fast!


Spinach and Artichoke dip is one of my favorite appetizers and now that I know how easy it is to make, I will be making it at home a lot more often!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip:

-recipe given to me by a lady at work (Thanks Janet!)


12 oz. frozen chopped spinach
1 can artichoke hearts
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup mayo (not miracle whip)
1 1/2 cup shredded parm. cheese
Garlic powder to taste

While still frozen chop spinach and artichokes into small pieces. Put in bowl and defrost for just a few minutes. Mix cream cheese, mayo and 1/2 of the parm. cheese and garlic powder. Combine the spinach and artichokes with the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining parm. cheese. Bake at 350 until heated through, about 20-40 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or bread chunks.

Here are a few other recipes that I used:

Dill Dip (for veggies)
- Taste of Home Magazine, Country Woman Christmas

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dill week
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
Assorted fresh veggies

Combine first six ingredients; mix well. Cover and refrigerate. Serve with vegetables. Yield: 1-1/2 cups.

** For the peach jelly cream cheese dip I bought a jar of hot peach jelly at a speciality baking store and then mixed a few blocks of cream cheese in. It was quite tasty w/ crackers!
The Sweet Pepper Pinwheels were also made from a mix that I bought at the baking store.

Andes Mint Brownies

This is my favorite brownie recipe. I just adapted it a bit by adding in some Andes Mints. Once I had the batter poured into the pan I sprinkled some crushed mints all over the top.

Then once the brownies were done I sprinkled some more over the top to make them a little prettier:)

** You can either buy the mints whole and crush them yourself, or you can buy them already crushed in the baking section
** I did not make the frosting that is in the recipe. They are still wonderful without it!

We really did have a great time and like Matt, I'm exited about hopefully doing something like this again next year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Celebrating our Anniversary

Matt and I went out to celebrate our 4th anniversary last Friday night. We had bid on a night stay at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City at a Christmas Fundraiser a few weeks ago and decided to use it to celebrate! (Our actual anniversary was on Thanksgiving day- November 27th)

The hotel was amazing! We even had a great view of the Christmas tree and ice skating rink across the street. (pic below) We ate dinner at Lidia's. It was sooo good! We decided to both go with their pasta tasting meal. They start you off with an incredible Caesar salad, followed by three different types of pasta- their specials for the night. You can get as many refills of pasta as you like! Then you get to pick one of their desserts to finish off with. We had a great time!

Here are a few pics from the evening. Sorry about all of the red-eye! I didn't edit these pics first, guess I should of!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reflecting on 2008

While reading in Exodus 16 this morning, I came across the story of how God provided manna/quail for the Israelites. I have heard the story countless times, but today I was really struck w/ how the Israelites didn't trust the Lord when he said that he would continue to provide food for them. They would try and take more manna than they were told, attempting to provide for themselves. When they did this though the food spoiled.

As I was reading this I couldn't help but reflect over the past year. 2008 was a year with a lot of big steps for Matt and I. Steps where we had to just trust God in what he was telling us. Sometimes it was hard not to get "antsy", to try and figure out things for ourselves, try and come up w/ our own solutions to situations that we now know were way bigger than us. This whole time God has had a plan, he knew every twist and turn that planting this church was going to take us. He knew and he continued to lead us one step at a time.

***For those of you who don't know, my husband and I are in the middle of planting a church. We felt that God was calling us to church planting around 2 years ago. It was scary, (and still is at times!) as church planting was definitely diving into the unknown.

We have been meeting regularly on Sundays for about 4 months now in a youth group facility. The owners are letting us meet there for free. (Such a blessing!) We already have several families who are attending regularly and now consider us their church home. We are going to be starting "Community Groups" towards the end of January, as well as offering some membership classes and this summer we have a mission team from Arkansas coming to help us host a sports camp!

All of this to say, we never would have been able to get past our narrow views of life if we hadn't decided to follow through with what the Lord was calling us to. I can't wait to see what's ahead in 2009!

Monday, December 15, 2008

10 days 'til Christmas!

Wow.. this month is flying by! I hope that everyone is enjoying their December. Ours has been busy, but good. This weekend was great...we celebrated our anniversary and hosted our Christmas Open House! I'll post more about both of those later along w/ some pics! But for now... onto plans for the week!

(oh and one last thing...yes we did buy a Christmas shirt for our dog, but in our defense it was only a $1! I love Targets dollar section!)


-Daily Quiet Time (Sometime I feel funny putting this under goals, it is not so much a goal but just something that I strive to do on a daily basis)
-Daily Advent Reading w/ Matt
-MAIL OUT CHRISTMAS CARDS! (this is my plan for tonight and tomorrow! I'm soo behind!)
-pick up groceries to make dish for work Christmas luncheon
-finish up Christmas shopping/ wrapping gifts
-take Christmas goodies to our neighbors
-work out at least 3 times this week! (I've been slacking in this area this month.. and this is definitely not the month to be slacking!)


Monday- Quesadillas w/ cheese, peppers and onions w/ beans and rice

Tuesday- Mexican Soup w/ cornbread

Wednesday- Cheeseburgers w/ oven potatoes, veggies

Thursday- Roast w/ potatoes and carrots

Friday- out to eat

~Since we have spent extra money this month for various Holiday gatherings and our party we are trying to make the most of what we have at the house... It's amazing what accumulates in your freezer! We have a roast, hamburger patties (from Omaha Steaks)plus all sorts of frozen veggies. I think the only thing I will have to pick up from the store is a bag of potatoes and maybe a pound of hamburger for the soup. It's looking to be a very red meat week!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dinners throughout the Week

I've had another sad cooking week. We have just had so much going on that cooking has gotten put on the back burner.

We did have crock pot salsa chicken burritos. And if you haven't tried this before you must! Here's a link to a post I did about them before.
We also had an unexpected evening at home due to snow. I had planned on running by the store to pick up either some peppers or chicken for one of my menu items, but decided against it w/ the condition of the roads. We were too hungry to wait for pizza dough to be ready (yeast) and so we went back to a meal we used to have fairly often... Biscuit pizzas! And I'm not gonna lie, I love them:)

Flatten biscuits...

bake for half of the baking time or even a little longer

add on fave toppings ( We did marinara, Italian sausage, onion and cheese)

cook the last couple minutes and that's it!

a little sauteed broccoli on the side, cup of coffee for dessert.. YUM!

Then, last night we had a coupon for a FREE pizza at Spin! For you Kansas City folks.. if you haven't been there, you must. And if you need someone to go w/ you, I could probably arrange that:)

It's one of my favorite places to eat in Olathe. The pizzas are Neapolitan style and they come w/ all sorts of yummy toppings. They even have a potato pizza which is one of my favorites. Another time I got an Italian sausage, goat cheese and apple pizza w/ a white sauce. Delicious! Their salads are equally as amazing.

The best part of that place is their lunch special. I believe it's $8 and you get your own personal pizza (and not just a single topping, any of their speciality pizzas) w/ your choice of one of their amazing salads. There are three locations in Kansas City.

So, what's your favorite type of pizza?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Finances~ Lord Guide us

Money has really been on my mind lately. Not the lack of money, necessarily, but just the way in which we handle our finances. I suppose it could be due to the fact that we are right smack in the middle of the holiday season and it feels like we are dishing out money left and right for various things.

Matt and I try, and I think are pretty successful, at sticking to the budget we have lined out. I record all of our expenses each week to make sure that we are staying w/in the allotted amounts. And for the first time in awhile have been able to start saving money again.

Still, I have felt very convicted to really seek the Lord on our finances. I asked Matt if he would join me in praying over this and we will just see where the Lord is guiding us. I firmly believe that the resources we have are directly from the Lord. He has always provided for us and has seen us through some of our more difficult financial times.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34

Dear Lord,

Thank you for always providing for us. Please Guide Matt and I in the way that we spend the resources you have provided for us. We want to honor you in all aspects of our life and if there is a way that we can better honor you with our money, please show us.

In Jesus name,

**This week I have been reading in Exodus. This morning I read chapters 9-12, which ended with the Lord freeing the Israelites out of Egypt. What are you reading?**

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Great Bargains at ULTA

If you live in the Kansas City area or have one close to you (they have locations all over the U.S., as well as online shopping) you must check it out! I used to hate buying make-up b/c I felt that I was always spending so much money. Ulta has such great deals though. Not only do they accept manufacturer coupons (those from online/ newspaper/ etc) they also have their own coupons. Typically the coupons are either for 20% off, or 3.50 off a purchase of $10 or more. They also have bonuses all the time with purchases. Here's just a brief bit about a few deals I recently got..

Buy $12 of Revlon products, get a free gift of a blush, eye shadow, lip gloss and nail polish. All of which were very nice products totally $39 if bought separately. On top of that I had a 3.50 off $10 purchase. So.. $12-3.50 = $8.50 for 5 items (including the one I had to buy to receive the free gift). I was kicking myself though b/c I could have saved even more if I had my coupon book w/ me which had Revlon coupons in it- They let you combine their coupons w/ manufacturer coupons which saves you even more!)

Then, last night I was out shopping for my Secret Santa at work. I popped into Ulta and they had cute large coffee mugs filled with a pretty large body wash, body lotion and hand cream. They were marked down to 9.99 and then I also had another 3.50 off 10.00 purchase. $6.50 for a really nice gift!

Also, if you are in need of some stocking stuffers they have a variety right now. They have a selection of lotions, fun makeups, even kid appropriate gifts for all under $5. They also had a 5 for $5 stocking stuffer promotion going on.

All this to say.. if you are in need of some good deals check out Ulta. They carry make-up, "drug-store brands" as well as more select brands. They also carry hair products, hair equipment, lotions, candles, all sorts of fun stuff.

If you get the paper they often have ads on Sundays with coupons and a list of all of their deals. You can also check out their website for a scan of the ad.

Oh! and one last thing! Mineral make-up is very popular right now. I haven't personally tried it, but if you have been thinking of doing so Ulta has their own line of mineral make-up and right now it is buy one get one free. The eye shadows are $10.00 regularly, so you would be getting 2 for 10.00. And if you get your hands on an Ulta coupon you might get an even better deal!

Ok.. I'm really done now. Good deals get me excited:)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy Monday!

Can anyone believe it's December the 8th? This year has truly flown by... Christmas is coming so fast!

I have MUCH to do this week as we are hosting our Holiday Open House next Sunday!

Here's a quick look at my plans/goals for the week:

- daily quiet time
-daily advent reading with Matt
- try and maintain the house this week since right now it's clean!
-finish buying groceries and paper goods needed for Sunday
-make Reservations for Matt and I's anniversary date Friday!
-give dog a bath
-complete Matt's Christmas present- seriously, Christmas shopping should NOT be this difficult!
-hopefully wrap a few gifts to have under the tree
-finish putting up last few decorations
-catch up on Thank you cards
- oh and I REALLY want to watch some Christmas Specials- Charlie Brown is on tonight!

(this is what I'm thinking so far, we have a semi-busy week so we'll see!)

Monday- Crock pot Salsa Chicken w/ black beans, tortillas, chips and salsa

Tuesday- not sure yet! It's Matt's last day of school so I'm trying to think of something special!

Wednesday- Peppers stuffed w/ Italian sausage, rice, tomatoes and cheese and a salad or a homemade pizza w/ the same toppings (minus the rice!) - I'll see what sounds better come Wednesday

Thursday- Italian Breaded Chicken w/ Mashed potatoes and sauteed broccoli

Friday- Anniversary Date night! (we are celebrating a couple weeks late, actual anniversary fell on Thanksgiving)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Corn w/ Wild Rice

Well, rather than posting a recipe from something I made this week.. I'm going to skip back a bit...

We had a Thanksgiving dinner at church a couple weeks ago and I was looking for a side to make. I came across this corn dish and just knew it was the one! Unfortunately I don't have any pics of mine but here's the link to where the recipe originated from, The Pioneer Woman Cooks. (and if you haven't checked out her website before you MUST check it out! Her recipes and step by step directions are wonderful!)

Hers looks to be a little creamier than mine.. but regardless it was still really good! So if you are looking for an extra side dish this holiday season here's one to keep in mind.

Corn w/ Wild Rice

2 cups cooked wild rice- wild rice is expensive! so i used a wild rice/white rice mixture.. it still turned out yummy!
3 to 4 cups fresh corn kernels (scraped off the cob)- I used frozen corn
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup heavy cream
1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or table salt to taste)
cayenne pepper to taste
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 to 1 cup milk, for thinning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook wild rice in chicken broth until almost done. Rice should still have a firm (but not crunchy) bite. Drain rice and allow to cool.
Scrape corn kernels into a large mixing bowl. Add in cream, butter, beaten eggs, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir together.
Add in cooled wild rice, stirring gently. Splash in milk so that mixture is stirrable, but not overly juicy.
Taste for seasonings, adding more salt or cayenne pepper if needed.
Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until just turning golden brown on top and mixture is somewhat set.

...And enjoy:)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A little bit of KC in NYC...

Good Morning America picks different cities each year to create a Holiday window display for their building and Kansas City was chosen this year!
Here's a link to the story as well as some more pictures!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

For unto us a Child is Born...

Matt brought home the book, "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" ( edited by Nancy Guthrie)
It is a series of 22 advent readings. We decided to read one a day together through the month. It takes less than 10 minutes for us to sit and read together but the words have been quite powerful. It has been nice to start each day this Christmas season w/ reflections on who Christ is.

A few quotations that stuck out to me are:

"When a person makes his home among people he moves in with them. He identifies with them. The incarnation is the moving in of the eternal Word so that he utterly identifies with us in every way. He took the whole nature of a human being, fully and totally identifying with everything with all that it means for us to be human..." (excerpt from That You May Believe: New Life in the Son by Joseph R. Ryan)

When Matt and I first decided to plant a church he often asked, "What would it look like if Jesus moved into our neighborhood?" I have thought back to that analogy often in everyday life. I have Christ, He is in me.. here I am everyday in my work place, in my neighborhood, at the grocery store.. are things changing because of that? Am I reaching out to others, meeting them where they are?

Here's another one...

"This is the word of a prophet, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given" (Isaiah 9:6) This is for us the hardest point, not so much to believe that he is the son of the virgin and God himself, as to believe that this Son of God is ours. That is where we wilt, but he who does feel it has become another man. Truly it is a marvelous in our eyes that God should place a little child in the lap of a virgin and that all our blessedness should lie in him. And this Child belongs to all mankind. God feeds the whole world through a babe nursing at Mary's breast."
(Adapted from Martin Luther's Christmas Book, edited by Roland H. Bainton)

Christ came to be with us.
He was born a baby into the world.
He experienced life.
He spent time with people.
He met peoples needs.
He is our God.

Our Great God humbled himself to come to earth and be born as a baby. Our Great God loved us that much. He "moved into our neighborhood", he became like us.. he came and sat at our table, he walked on our dirty streets...

Our Great God...

Gosh, what's my excuse?

I am going to try to start looking for ways that I can better demonstrate God's love, will you?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Much to give thanks for...

This past thanksgiving I was especially thankful for one person. Thanksgiving day marked Matt and I's 4 year anniversary. Crazy how fast time has gone.

I couldn't have found a greater person to walk through life with. The past four years have been filled with many ups and downs and regardless he has always remained steady. I can't wait to continue making memories with my best friend. I love you Matt!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We are going out in a couple weeks to celebrate our anniversary.. but in the meantime here is a pic from us at the KU game last week at the Sprint Center. We had SOOO much fun!!

Cutting Coupons, Cuts Costs... or as Matt says "Full Price is for Suckas" :)

Coupons and grocery ads have been a big help to me in saving money. I love when the grocery ads come out for the week... yes I know, I'm a dork. But really I do! It's fun to see how you will be able to save money the coming week. Grocery shopping can really be a game if you let it be.. especially if you match grocery ads w/ coupons! But let me not get ahead of myself...

Here's my coupon routine...

We get the Sunday paper and so Sunday evening (or another night that week) while we are winding down for the night I like to watch a little TV and cut coupons. I cut only the ones that I feel will be profitable. Then I file them in my coupon folder,
a small expandable file folder I found in the dollar section at Target! I labeled the dividers according to different sections of the grocery store: Produce, Meats, Pantry, Freezer, Toiletry and so on. The first section I labeled for current coupons I plan on using and the last section I left for restaurant coupons.
This takes all of about 30 minutes to do. It's nice to do this at a time when I'm not also trying to plan my menu or make my grocery list. This way my coupons are cut and I'm ready for whenever I do decide to plan my trip to the grocery store.

**I also try and make sure to go through my coupons that are already in my folder and discard the ones that have expired. This way I am sure that I won't try and use them.

On Tuesday/Wednesday the grocery store ads come out for week. (The ads at my local grocery stores run Wednesday through Tuesday, unless they are running a special BUT the sales at Target/Wal-Mart/etc run Sunday through Saturday.. just an FYI!)

When the ads come out I like to go through and circle the deals that I would like to check out. After I look through the ads, I like to go through my coupons and see if I have any that I would be able to combine with a deal. For instance, Target had cereal listed 2 for $4. I had 2 different coupons that said buy 1 box of cereal get $1 off (of this particular brand). I bought two boxes at Targets price for $4 and then used my manufacturer coupons to get an additional $1 off each box of cereal. Grand Total - $2 for 2 boxes of cereal!
I have come across deals like this quite often so just keep your eyes out! Moneysavingmom is a great site to check out for coupon/grocery store deal combinations!

None of this really takes all that long, just a few minutes here or there can save you money while at the store. Little by little your savings adds up and I'm realizing the longer that I do this the better I am at spotting deals and keeping even more money in my wallet.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Getting back on track..

Well, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

I went missing from the blogging world for a few days as we left town Wednesday to go and visit my family. But now I'm back:)

Since I didn't have my "normal" weekend at home my plans for this week are still a little sketchy.. but here is what I have so far.


Monday- probably out.. then to the grocery store!

Tuesday- might thaw some soup from the fridge/ sandwich fixings (Matt will be at school)

Wednesday- Italian - a homemade pizza sounds good or maybe just a pasta dish.. I'm going to check and see what we already have in our pantry before I leave for the store. This will somewhat determine our meal for Wednesday.

Thursday- We are craving that orange chicken again! I think we will have that w/ rice and a side of green veggies:)

Friday- this is our normal date night.. so we are planning dinner and a movie:)

Goals for the Week:

-daily quiet time

-spend time w/ Matt daily reading through our Advent book

-finish grocery list/ match w/ coupons

-finish decorating the house for Christmas:)

-get caught up on laundry from this past week

I think this is all for the week. The list is a little shorter but the job a lot bigger as I still have quite a bit of decorating to do! I usually have this all done right after Thanksgiving but w/ being out of town I just didn't quite get there.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two - for - One!

Today, I thought that I would combine a post about being healthy with a post about meal planning b/c they really do go hand in hand. I started meal planning probably about 2 years ago. I was frustrated with going to the grocery store, buying lots of random stuff only to find out when I got home that I was missing all sorts of ingredients to make a good meal. Plus I was spending WAY to much at the store!

I came up with a quick word document where I could think through what we would be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I always do two weeks at a time. (** I was trying to link to my document but I haven't been able to figure out how yet!)

First, I list any activities that we have going on in the week so that I am able to plan accordingly. Next, I add in meals that maybe I had already bought ingredients for but never made. Then, I start filling in the blanks with meal ideas.

I will usually look through the grocery store ads/ coupons to see what I can get on sale as I decide what to plan for. I also try and balance out our meats. For instance, I try not to plan three meals in a row w/ red meat, reasons varying from cost to trying to find something a little healthier. I also try and plan at least one meal a week that doesn't have any meat in it. This can really cut down on your grocery bill! Good alternatives are Mexican dishes w/ beans instead of beef or veggie pasta dishes.

Also, when I go shopping I try and specifically plan for breakfasts, lunches and even snacks. When I neglect to do this we are far more tempted to go out, which costs more and can once again not always be the healthiest.

For breakfasts I try and always have: bread, eggs, oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, fruit...

And now I can't lie.. I like to have a can or two of biscuits in the fridge. I love them! I also always have a big box of Bisquick at hand for pancakes/waffles.

For snacks: once again yogurt, fruit, carrots or other veggies, trail mix, lunch meat, tortillas are good to have to whip up a variety of snacks- quick cheese quesadilla or warmed up w/ peanut butter, and once again.. I can't lie.. I'm a sucker for chips and salsa!

Finally, before I completely settle on a menu I go through and do a rough estimate of what each meal will cost. I make sure that these meals together will keep us within our budget. I always try to be under seeing as how things can sometimes end up costing more than I had thought.

I also check to see that the meals don't all consist of rich, hearty foods. Now, I in no means have gone and cut out all of our favorite casserole dishes. I just try and make sure that my menu is balanced out and try and find new healthier spins on some of our favorite meals.

In the beginning this use to take me quite some time to plan everything out.. but now it doesn't take me long at all. I guess its like anything, practice does help!

Next week I'll post on how I organize my grocery lists/coupons!

Monday, November 24, 2008

With the good comes the bad (atleast this weekend it did for me)

Saturday, Matt and I baked our first big ham (w/ a bone, I might add!). Actually we baked two. We had a dinner after our church service yesterday. We were sooo impressed with ourselves!

I had also planned on baking some rolls on Saturday. They are just the frozen kind, but you have to let them rise for 3-4 hours. Well the ham took longer than I thought it would, and so we ran out of time to bake the rolls before we had to be somewhere. I just thought oh.. I'll bake them when we get home, they'll be fine.

When we got home about 3 hours later the rolls had BALLOONED! They were coming out of the pan they were so tall. Long story short, they ended up in the trash. Matt thought this whole thing was hilarious, it took me a day or so to find the humor in it all:)

Now my goals for the week:

It's a short week. We are leaving town as soon as I get out of work on Wednesday, so not much time to do a whole lot, but here we go..

-continue w/ waking up early every morning

- work out at least once if not twice before we leave town

-keep the house clean for the next 3 days so that we can come home to a nice house

-finish laundry/washing sheets on beds

-take wedding rings in for warranty check


Honestly, I don't have one for the week. My fridge is stocked w/ leftovers that will last for the next two days and then we will be hitting the road. I love weeks like this!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cranberry-Orange Bars

I had bought a bag of cranberries and decided that I wanted to find a yummy baked good recipe to use them in. While I was searching the internet, I came across this recipe over at Good Things Catered. And all I have to say is wow. They turned out AMAZING! They were also really easy to throw together. I've been picking out recipes to use for our Christmas Open House coming up in a few weeks and this one definitely makes the cut!

Thanks Katie for such a great recipe!

Cranberry Orange Bars


1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp orange zest
2 c. fresh cranberries


-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
-Beat together sugar and butter until lighter in texture.
-Beat in eggs, orange juice and vanilla until combined
-Add flour and baking powder and mix well (should be the consistency of a cookie dough).
-Fold in orange zest and cranberries.
-With an oiled spatula, spread batter evenly in a 9x12 prepared baking pan.
-Bake for about 40 minutes.

And if you need further proof of just how amazingly good these are...

I'm sooo eating the rest tonight! (yes.. I'll share w/ Matt)

Open Face Thanksgiving Sandwich- One of Matt's Faves

This past Sunday I made Matt and I a little (sort of) Thanksgiving meal...

Matt loves "Thanksgiving leftover Sandwiches". My mom found this great recipe a couple years back. That year we made the sausage stuffing from scratch. Now for a quick meal I cheat and use the box stuff.. but hey it is sooo good!

This is hardly an original recipe, you probably do this w/ all of your leftovers anyways.. but just in case.


Bread (thicker slices)

turkey (thicker slices also)- I just went to the deli, picked out a kind that looked good (cranberry-orange!) and asked him to slice it thick.. not exactly the real stuff, but works just fine!


sausage ( i used Italian b/c that is what we had, pork, sage, whichever you prefer)

cranberry sauce (yes I cheated again and used the canned stuff)

apple sauce

turkey gravy (you guessed it.. the can)


Okay so this is more like a compiling of ingredients.. but Matt LOVES this stuff. And I would be lying if I said that I didn't also:)

Prepare stuffing according to box. Add in cooked sausage. ( I only used 1/2 lb to one box stuffing) Heat turkey on stove top w/ gravy. Combine cranberry sauce and apple sauce.. one can and then I just eyeballed the applesauce) and heat on stove.

Layer- slice of bread, turkey/gravy, stuffing w/ sausage, and a little (or a lot!) cranberry-applesauce mixture right on top.

That's it.. a sort of thanksgiving dinner in less than 30 minutes! And this is a great way to use up some of those leftovers from this coming Thursday!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Grocery Store Victory!

Well, I'm not anywhere close to the point where I go to the grocery store and buy $152 in groceries for $0.35! (I still don't understand how people are able to do that.. crazy!) But this past week I did save $12.00 in coupons!

For some time now I've been clipping coupons. Now I can't say that it always saves me a lot of money. For one, coupons are usually for name brand items, so saving 25 cents on a box of $4 cereal... not such a good buy...especially, when you can get off brand cereal for half the price. So, I have have started scouring the grocery store ads, either online or the ones that come in the paper, and have been trying to double up sales that grocery stores are running w/ coupons. This can equal out to some great deals. For instance this past week Matt and I picked up cereal for $1 box. It was already on sale, plus I had coupons!

MoneySavingMom has been a great resource for me when it comes to finding good coupon deals. Now, she is a pro and she admits that it takes time to work up to the savings that she is able to accumulate. But it is still helpful to reference.

Also, if you haven't yet... you should really give Target a try when it comes to groceries! Their food is not expensive as sometimes it is rumored to be, as long as you buy their off brands, Archer Farms and Market Pantry. They both have really great products. Plus, you are able to use both manufacturer coupons with Target coupons on the same item! (go here for Target online coupons)
Target, also offers gift card promotions fairly often, where if you buy a product (normally name-brand) you get a gift card in return. I have scored some great deals by doing this!)

One more tidbit.. if you have a coupon but the store you are at doesn't carry the product, a lot of times they will honor the coupon on a similar product. Just make sure you ask an employee first, but it has worked often for me!

My hope is that since I am getting into this habit now, while shopping for only 2 people, I will be better prepared when I have a whole family to feed.

I'll post more later about my grocery shopping attack plan, including meal planning, grocery lists, coupon organization.. and so on.

Do you cut coupons?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I have been reading in Genesis for some time now and this past week I was reading a lot about one particular family, especially the two brothers, Jacob and Esau.

In short form, Jacob received a blessing by their father Issac that was meant to be for Esau. He tricked his father into giving him the blessing. (Gen. 27) This wasn't even the first time that Esau had been cheated by Jacob. (Gen. 25: 27-34)

Can you imagine, being cheated by your brother in a way such as that, not only once.. but twice! The anger and hurt that Esau felt, had to be incredible.

Here is what got me though... years later, after Jacob had a family of his own, as did Esau they were about to cross paths. Jacob was fearful, he did not know how Esau would react to him. He even sent slaves out ahead of him with a gift of herds of animals, almost like a peace offering. (Gen. 32)

When Esau and Jacob finally met though..

"But Esau ran to meet him, hugged him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. Then they wept" Gen. 33:4. (You can read more here)

If this isn't an example of forgiveness.. I don't know what is...
If this isn't an example of the love that a family has... of the love that Christ has shown us... I don't know what is...

I was struck though when I started thinking about whether or not I exercise that kind of love in my own life.

On Sunday, my husband shared during his sermon a story about his family. (coincidentally). Matt's dad caused him a lot of grief growing up.. alcoholic, abusive, not there. This past summer though Matt started to receive letters from his dad. Honestly, the hurt that Matt has gone through b/c of his dad could have caused him just to toss the letters, but you know.. he read them and he wrote his dad back. Now, they have been writing letters for months and just this week Matt talked to his dad on the telephone for the first time in years.

Now, I don't have quite the same story that Matt does and maybe you don't either... but the Lord has been showing me how even in my own family I need to show Christ's love to them.

~I need to pray for my family more.

~I need to ask them how I can pray for them.

~I need to consider their needs more.

~I need to ask them how they are doing more often.

The Lord has especially been speaking to me about my sister and the lack of a relationship that we share. She has gone through some tough times and I regret the fact that I wasn't always there for her. It's nuts how a complete stranger can be hurting and we run to them but sometimes in our own family we just put it off.

So, I am really praying for my sister.. not just mentioning her name in a long list of people. I sent her a card a couple weeks ago and I'm going to again this week.

Family is such a gift, even through the heartaches.. and believe me, I've had my share.. but Christ has put us each in our own family for a reason.


Thank you for my family.

Help me Lord to not take them for granted. Help me Lord to not only see my family for what they can do for me Lord, but how I can better serve them. I pray Lord that my relationship with each of them will continue to deepen. I pray that I will be a true light and testament to you in each the relationships that I share with them. Lord, give me wisdom , give me patience, give me understanding...


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Being Healthy - What this looks like for me...

With Thanksgiving just days away, the season of eating is here. Delicious hearty foods, desserts, candies.. YUM, YUM, YUM.

At my work they have a wellness club that promotes different health activities throughout the year. This week started a new challenge, "Maintain Don't Gain". For this challenge we are encouraged to do some sort of physical activity for 150 min/ week. Now, this doesn't mean that you have to go run 5 miles everyday.. walking, yard work, playing some sort of recreational sport.. all of these count. The point is just to get you to be active.

I like these sort of challenges b/c this is good to incorporate into your lifestyle on a daily/ weekly basis anyways. Obviously some weeks are busier than others... and missing days happens, that's just a part of life.

Almost a year ago Matt and I joined a health club. It has been such a good thing for us. My personal goal is to be at the gym at least 3 times a week. I usually run 1-2 miles on the elliptical,lift weights (arms and legs) and do an ab workout. My goal is not to turn into some crazy fit person.. I'm just trying to be healthy. I have felt so much better by making this part of my weekly routine, I even feel less tired than I used to.

Now, don't feel that you have to join a health club to exercise or to practice an active lifestyle. My mom is very into exercising but she never had a gym membership (until recently). She LOVES to walk though... and a great way to do this is to grab a friend and walk around your neighborhood or if its cool around the mall or some other large indoor facility. There were even ladies at my church growing up that would come and walk in the church gym...

Another part of being healthy has nothing to do with working up a sweat. Try this holiday season to not get stressed, get some sleep and just enjoy being around your family. This might mean delegating a little more by asking others to help if you are feeling overwhelmed, trying to exercise patience with out of town guests/ family you haven't seen in awhile.

So...throughout the next seven weeks I will try and post weekly on this challenge that I am participating in. I'll let you know the activities that I am trying to incorporate into my week that promote a healthy lifestyle. This week I will *try* and be active each day in some way. I will try and eat a healthy breakfast each morning and grab healthy snacks when hunger strikes, rather than grabbing a bag of potato chips. I will also try and work out in my yard this week. It is amazing the kind of workout that you can get from just raking/bagging leaves! (besides.. Matt and I really need to finish up this project anyways) So those are my plans for the week... nothing much... but every little bit helps.

**Oh and one more thing.. these pictures are of two of my favorite girls... This is a day that Matt and I took them to a park, a great way to get exercise.. not only for the kids, but for you too! You know what I'm talking about.. "PLEASE PUSH ME!"