December 31, 2016

Remember the Sand

With the turning of a calendar, there is a reflection on the past, and the future. Many look at their year of 2016 and are unhappy with the results. In all honesty, MOST of us are unhappy with the results. All too often we miss the little things that made the year good. Maybe we even miss the big things too, because time has gone by so quickly. As my year calendar year ended, I could think of some big things that happened in 2016. But I also remember a lot of little things. Cards from loved ones. Laughter with friends. Fellowship with brethren. Date nights with my sweetheart. Snuggles with my boys. It’s the day to day things which get you through the year. Big stuff will always happen, and if you let them, they will overpower all the other things. The little things that fill in the gaps like sand between boulders. Problem is that we always seem to remember our year of boulders—and not the millions of grains of sand (ie. Little things).

This year, try to remember the sand.

Yes the boulders. The BIG events. The crisis times. The MOMENTS. Those will always happen. They will always dominate our thoughts and our memories. They will sometimes threaten to squash us. So reflect on the sandy things. The little bits that brought you joy. The kind words. The kind gifts. The smiles. The phone calls. The laughter. The nights with friends. The snuggles on the couch with your spouse or children. The dinner with family. The walks in the park. Fill your mind with the little things that get you through every day, and the boulders won’t be so overwhelming. In fact, you can BURY a boulder with sand.

One way that you can reflect on the sandy things throughout the year, is to make a “Blessings Jar” or a “Good times Jar” or a “Little Things Jar”.

What is it?

Take a quart jar. Wrap ribbon around it. Make it pretty. (or just leave it alone if it’s not your kind of thing. LOL). Make a label for it that says one of the above things.
you can click this and use this one like mine, if you want
Now, next to it, keep a small pad of paper. Or a small pad of sticky notes. Any small paper will do.
Whenever something good happens to you—NO MATTER WHAT IT IS—take a moment and write it down with the date. Then fold it and pop it into your jar. Do it all day long. Do it once a day. Have your family do it too. Keep doing it throughout the year. Then, at the end of the year, you can read about all the POSITIVE things that happened. Some might be big—maybe a new job, new car, new house, good grades, raise, etc—but most will be little. Maybe someone bought you a coffee. Or you received a card from a friend. Maybe you reconnected with someone you hadn’t seen in awhile. Maybe you successfully did 30 minutes of exercise. Or lost 1 (or 10!) pound. Maybe you had a great conversation with your kids. Or had a date night.

The point is to fill that jar with all the things we will likely forget as time moves on. It lets us see the year much differently.

But you know what? Open that jar also on days when things AREN’T going well. When the boulders are overwhelming you. Reach for the Little Things jar and remind yourself of the “sand” you are collecting. It might help that boulder get smaller—or buried.

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December 23, 2016

Be Safe, Be Kind, and Share Love

Hello my friends. Can you believe that it's already December 23rd? This year has just FLOWN by and there have been so many changes here, and I'm sure in your own life. This could be one of the busiest weekends your family may have this weekend--My family is attending a church wide family weekend hosted at the Great Wolf Lodge. We will be joining almost 1500 others as we enjoy time together with sports events, bible studies, seminars, and just a great time. 
I hope that you will remember at least three things no matter what your plans are this weekend:
1. Be Safe
Please. This weekend is absolutely NUTTY on the roads. Watch out for the crazies out there and be safe. People leave their brains at home when they are driving these days. 
2. Be Kind
Please be kind. What? Well, this weekend is so hectic for so many people, that simple kindness goes a long way. Let other cars merge. Let someone go in front of you in a line. Hold the door for the young and old. Pay it forward with buying a coffee for the next one in line. Offer to help a mom with her hands full. Just simply smile at a frazzled parent. Let's promote kindness in all that we do this weekend--and forever forward. The world needs A LOT of kindness right now.
3. Share LOVE
This goes hand in hand with kindness. Let's make sure everyone in your life knows without a DOUBT that you love them and care for them. It might be JUST what they need to hear about today.
Have fun my friends. And I will see you sometime Monday...

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December 16, 2016

Remember Now {Five Minute Friday}

Hello my friends! We are here on one of the last Fridays of the year. Did you know today is my birthday? Yes indeed. I was blessed to be able to have a day to run errands by myself, and when I came home I discovered my mom had my boys clean my house nearly spotless! What a birthday present! And then she fixed the dinner I used to request every year when I was younger. She hadn't been able to make it for years, so she was very excited about that. My family gave me a TON of love. And tomorrow night, I believe we are all going out for dinner and to see Rogue One. I love spending birthday's with family!

It is another Friday, and that means a new word for Five Minute Friday--this one is simply: Now.


What do you think of when you think of the word NOW? Does it have a sense of urgency? I mean when we are young we know that when our parents say "Come here NOW!" That means, get your butt in gear and move. Or when you are in a race, you might here--and "NOW!" and you rush to start. Now means to do immediately. It's an action word.

One of my most favorite scriptures uses the word "Now"...

Remember NOW your Creator, in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come..." Ecclesiastes 12:1

Why? Why the admonishment to remember NOW?
Well, if you think about it, our lives are fairly untroubled in our youth. So if we build a relationship with our God when we are free from a lot of the world's troubles, it will fill our tank. Fill our tank for us to pull on later when we are older and the "difficult days come..."

I love to look on all HE has created and ponder all the time and care involved. I like to think on how much He cared to make the Earth perfect--and how much more He cares about man. These moments of peace definitely help when trouble comes.

What are you doing to remember your Creator now?


I hope you and yours have a most wonderful weekend! On Sunday I will be working hard on a new venture for me that sort of just popped up out of nowhere. I look forward to sharing it with you, and giving you a run down of other things that are going on. Think of Sunday as being a catch up! And of course, we have the upcoming TEN FAVORITE REVIEW ITEMS from 2016. That will be fun to share with you!
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December 9, 2016

Finding Joy {Five Minute Friday}

Hello my friends! I am so sorry that I have missed the last couple weeks of Five Minute Friday! It's been so busy! I hope that you are staying sane in the craziness of this time of year. We are looking forward to peaceful completion of the year, and we hope to finish the year
The word JOY has a special meaning for me. As many of you are aware, my husband and I have had infertility issues for several years. When I experienced my second miscarriage (I've had four, including an ectopic), I was at a very low point. I was very bitter. I saw several unmarried young girls getting pregnant during that time, and went through the "why not me" stage. Then in the fall of 2012, I discovered I was pregnant after trying since January 2011. I was so happy and thankful. We went to Georgia to attend our annual week long Feast of Tabernacles--and on the evening before everything began, I started having a miscarriage. There I was away from home, celebrating one of my most favorite of God's feasts--more joyous and eager to celebrate thanks to our blessing that year--and then BAM. I have to start with a miscarriage. There was no joy. There was pain. There was sorrow. There was bitterness.

The next morning--for the sun always rises no matter what--I got up and I felt bitterness to my core. I was full of the "not fairs". So I decided I needed to have a long talk with God. I walked out onto the beach of Jekyll Island. As I climbed up onto the bridge that goes over the rocks to the beach, the golden sun hit the water and made it sparkle. The waves crashed on the shore. The sand stretched seemingly endless. And I felt so very small. The vastness of creation weighed down on me. But it was beautiful. Even in my bitterness, I was moved. So as I admired God's handiwork, I gave my heart to Him again. I asked that He remove the bitterness. That I needed to I didn't even know what to pray. 

So I simply asked Him: "Lord. I need You to help me find JOY every day." 
"Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” ~ Nehemiah 8:10
Would you also believe that a few hours later, when we attended church that day--the very first of my friends that I saw was a darling beautiful woman...and when I saw her moving towards me, I just cried...because her name--is Joy. God brought me Joy--I had asked, He had answered in a way beyond what I had even prayed for. And as it turned out, Joy found me every day that week. She put her arms around me and together we praised God for His mercy and love. 

God answers prayers. His joy is our strength. His joy is MY strength. 

I continue to seek the Lord's JOY every day. 
May you and yours have a most blessed weekend--and a most refreshing Sabbath day to those who keep it.

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December 5, 2016

My Top 10 Favorite Kitchen Tools {2016 Gift Guide Series}

Welcome back to another post in my 2016 Gift Guide series! Today I'm going to be sharing with you some of my absolute FAVORITE items for my kitchen. Some will be big, some will be small--but all have my stamp of approval! As you know, cooking is one of my hobbies, so I am in the kitchen all the time. I also have a thing for kitchen gadgets. Fortunately, I have found some great ones which have saved me a LOT of time in my kitchen prep--or I just love to use them. I hope that this list will help you, if you are figuring out what to get a friend or family member who loves to cook!
My Top 10 Favorite Kitchen Tools {2016 Gift Guide Series}
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1. KitchenAid Stand Mixer

When my grandmother (maternal) died in 2004, I was offered her KitchenAid Stand Mixer. We took it home and I put it on my counter. And there it sat. Not getting used much. But I was working full time and just wasn't doing a lot of cooking. So we ended up passing it on. Flash forward to 2014 when my paternal grandma died, bequeathing me her stack of favorite cookbooks, the old family recipes and her...KitchenAid Stand Mixer. THIS time, I was ready for it. And let me tell you, I have given that baby a workout! I use it for everything from dough to batter to making creamy mashed potatoes. I LOVE that I can get it set up and just walk away. I also love that I have a pasta attachment and sausage attachment. No extra machines needed. This baby gets used at least 3-4 times a week and it has well earned it's place on my counter. I highly recommend one of these for any home where there is someone who cooks a LOT. 

People, let me tell you. BEST PURCHASE FOR 2016 in my kitchen. I have been so happy to have this baby. It does EVERYTHING and more. And all the issues I had with my other Oster run of the mill normal blender--gone. This baby can crush ice in record time. It can turn whole apples into a smoothie without any bits. Horseradish, ginger, garlic--whirled together and nothing left behind. Even frozen fruit--it doesn't bog it down nor stay chunky. Adding leafy and stem herbs? No worries. NO tangles around the blade. AND it has a 96 oz pitcher! Let's not forget the food processing attachment and the single serving smoothie travel cups. Oh man. I LOVE those! If I'm making a smoothie for me, I don't need the pitcher! Just put it in my cup, give it a whirl, put on a lid and go! Seriously. I can't say enough about this thing. Even my mom is trying to figure out how to justify replacing her "works perfectly fine" blender, in order to get one like mine. She has fallen in love with it. If your family is a smoothie family and your normal blender gets bogged down--or you have issues with frozen fruits not getting chopped--you need this. Unlike a "juicer" you can put the whole fruit or veggie in and get it completely chopped! Not wasting anything. Go for it. Even if you go for a smaller Ninja. It's worth it.

3. Kitchen Digital Scale

With our beef business, I needed a good scale so we could check on our various packaged meat weights. I also use it in cooking for weighted recipes, but not usually. One of the things I absolutely wanted, was a scale that went over 10lbs. Fortunately there are quite a few selections out there. One of my favorites is this 11lb Food Kitchen Scale with Removable Bowl. I love the sleek design, and that I wouldn't need a separate bowl. This Slim Stainless Multifunction Scale also goes to 11lbs, but is flat for the more bulky objects. It's more like the one I have (that I can't find anymore). Either of these is a good option for someone who needs to know weights in their business or cooking. I also like to use it to figure out shipping costs when I'm sending something. 

Oh man. I use this ALL the time. For cooking and for tea. I love having it ready where I can get boiling water in a matter of a couple minutes. I keep it full. Another item I probably use every week several times. And it doesn't take up room on top of my stove. If you have a tea lover, you definitely need to snag this for them, if they don't have it yet. There are several different versions. I have one similar to this one on the left. There is also a 1.7 litre one that is by the same company, but with a more rounded design.

5. Bread Machine

One of the best things we bought for our home when we were first married was a bread machine. Man, we used the tar out of it. I STILL love them. The only reason we don't still have one, is that our last one broke, and I needed a new place for my Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer! But if I had enough counter space, I would TOTALLY have another one. I really like the 2 lb bread machine because it makes the perfect sized loaves. I really love this Hamilton Beach Programmable Bread Machine. It even has settings for gluten-free if you need this setting. Another one that is popular (#1 actually) is the Oster 2-pound Expressbake Bread Machine. I had one almost identical to this one--I believe it makes a loaf in just 1 1/2 hrs. Did you know most bread machine's also make cheesecake?! 

6. Coffee Grinder

Okay--I know many of you are going "no. I don't do coffee beans." Right? Me neither! But this has still becoming a major tool in my kitchen. Doing what? Spices! I LOVE to have fresh peppercorns and other whole spices at my disposal, and this little baby grinds them up quick as a wink! It is small--about the size of a small 16oz pop bottle--so it's easy to store. It's really fast with a stainless steel blade and inner bowl. Now I also use it for coffee beans, and I can do a normal size bag of beans into ground in about 5 minutes. My sons love using it for me. LOL

7. Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven

This is at the TOP of my list right now. Seriously it is. This is the ONE pan that I don't have yet, that is the top of my wants. The main reason I love it, is for the porcelain enamel. This makes it work fabulously on the top of my flat top stove without me worrying about scratches. Another reason I love it--cast iron handles and a metal top handle. This makes it oven safe. And what is the best thing about it? I can use it for double cooking--starting things on my stovetop and then shifting it to the oven. I have several recipes I would LOVE to do this for, but without this tool, I am out of luck. I'm holding out hope for it as a birthday gift in a couple weeks! LOL. And this comes in a TON of colors. I'm partial to the Caribbean Blue, and the Spice Red.

8. Fruit and Vegetable Chopper

I don't mind shopping vegetables. But when I have to do a TON of vegetables, it gets rather tedious. And when faced with a garbage bag full of green/red peppers, it becomes groan worthy. FORTUNATELY, we had recently purchased the Fruit and Vegetable Chopper from Progressive. We were leery about the fact that it's predominately plastic, but let me tell you. After chopping that GARBAGE BAG--yes I do mean that in every sense of the word--of peppers, we were convinced! What used to take about 2 hrs, took an hour tops. One of us sliced the peppers open and the other chopped. Bam. perfect size. a container to catch them. We filled our freezer bags quick as a wink. I also use this chopper for mashed potatoes. It keeps them uniform and small for boiling. Hard boiled eggs or strawberries? Yes there is a soft food slicer blade as well! It also comes with a piece for cleaning the chopper lid. I am very pleased with my chopper--BUT if you are wanting a smaller version, I have always enjoyed using the smaller chopper for chopping/mincing/dicing.

9. Stainless Steel Cookware Set

About 6 years ago, my husband splurged and bought me a brand new stainless cookware set for our anniversary. We had decided to throw out the non-stick (toxic!) and bring in a new style of pans. Although they were a challenge to get use to at first, we now ADORE them and exclusively use them (other than my lone cast iron skillet). This set is very similar to the set I own--but has even more pieces!! I have never been sorry that we switched, and encourage you to bite the bullet and do it too!

10. The Pioneer Woman Kitchen/Dining Collection

If you want to lose me in a store (like Walmart), take me to the kitchen section and let it have items from The Pioneer Woman collection. My absolute favorite is the Pioneer Woman Flea Market collection! I already own several pieces from the collection including a tablecloth, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and the adorable stainless steel measuring spoons. My goal is to get a few of the baking dish pieces too. And the towels/washcloths. The beautiful trivet collection. And anything else that jumps into my cart. LOL. I use recipes from The Pioneer Woman cookbook all the time. Her sausage gravy and her meatballs are family favorites! I totally recommend any of the Pioneer Woman line of kitchen and dining products!

Now there are far more than 10 things that I think are awesome for a kitchen, but THESE ten are items that I personally love and think any cook would love to receive as a gift! I hope that I've given you some new ideas to explore as your going about your gift buying over the upcoming month and throughout the year to come.
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