Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Read More, Dust Less.....

I read a devotional from “Girlfriends in God” last week and it has stuck with me since I read it so I thought I’d share. It's a lot of words but please don't stop reading now. You'll be glad you didnt, I promise! 

I think it says enough on its own without me adding my rambling thoughts to it (although you might notice I couldn’t resist in a few spots – the parentheses). It is written by a woman in the “older woman” category (this title came from the devotional and is not my but even I, being in the “young woman” category found it to be something good to think on of how I would want to reflect on the life I am living now, down the road once I enter that other category. 

Imagine:  You are sitting across from a cherished (spunky) “older woman” in your life, sipping a cup of tea and she is giving you one of those “life-talks". :)  At least that is picture of how those talks have went for me. Love those talks and love that cherished lady in my life.

By Mary Southerland
I have some advice for you, girlfriend. If you are a young woman, it really is true that you should cherish every day and every moment with your friends and family because the older you get, the quicker the days fly by. I look at my children who are married and having children of their own and wonder where all of those years went. How did this happen?

If you are an older woman, take a deep breath and celebrate the fact that you are breathing. I believe if you are alive, God has a purpose and plan for your life. Give yourself a pat on the back for your survival skills. Take a few moments to reflect on your life and don't get hung up on what might have been. Celebrate what is and what will be.

I have discovered some wonderful advantages to growing older and have learned some valuable lessons along the way. Each chapter of life seems to grow more exciting and I keep wondering when that "slow down" thing is going to kick in. I am no longer overly concerned with a lot of things that once kept me awake at night. There is great freedom in having paid a lot of "life dues" because I have already been there, done that and don't really care about getting the T-shirt.

(Love this paragraph) I can say with authority that you probably will live through that crisis you think will be the death of you. What defines you today may very well seem ridiculous in ten years or even ten days. Stupidity will give way to wisdom learned the hard way. I now give myself permission to do or not do things I once would have felt compelled to do simply because it was someone's ridiculous expectation… not God's plan. My audience has certainly changed over the years from the people who love to leer at me through the glass bowl in which I live, to running the race of life for an audience of One.

Yes, there are moments when I have made a frenzied and desperate attempt to stay young. But then, why would I want to do that? There are many years of my life I really do not want to revisit and there is so much of my life now that I love. During one of those youth seeking moments, I came across the following list of ways to stay young and found it quite interesting.

This is a “feel good” list.  You know, one of those lists that makes you feel like, “Yep, that is the way life should be.” But…you never actually live any of them out.  And I have to say that there are a few of these that I don’t agree with entirely, the principal behind it maybe, but not taking it at face value.

How to Stay Young

1. Throw out non-essential numbers such as your age, weight and height.

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down. If you really need a grouch, there are probably family members to fill that need. (Haha…“if you really need a grouch”….stay away from those joy stealers)

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Just never let the brain idle.

4. Enjoy the simple things. When the children are young, that is all you can afford. When they are in college that is all you can afford. When they are grown, and you are on retirement, that is all you can afford.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. Laugh so much that you can be tracked in the store by your distinctive laughter.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person that is with us our entire life is ourselves.  (and GOD!) à Jill’s insert.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it is family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies or whatever. Your home is your refuge. (But don’t let these things become idols.) à Jill’s insert.

8. Cherish your health. If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Go to the mall, the next county, a foreign country - but not guilt.

10. Tell the people you love how much you love them every chance you get. Never assume they know.

11. Don't worry about things you cannot change or do anything about. Accept them and move on.

12. Read more and dust less. (Ha…love this.)

13. Spend more time with your family and friends and less time working.

14. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not to endure. Recognize these moments now and cherish them.

15. Do not "save" anything. Use your good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, or the next blossom of flowers you see.

16. Wear your best outfit to the market.

17. Don't save your good perfume for only special occasions. Use it even if you are going shopping or just to the bank.

18. "Someday" and "one of these days" should vanish from your vocabulary. If it is worth seeing or hearing or doing, go and see or hear or do it now.

What about you? Are you living each day to the fullest? Jesus is all about living an abundant life in the here and now…whatever stage of life that may be for you. Jesus came so that we can live abundantly and eternally. Eternity began the moment you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior.

Who or what is stealing the joy from your life?

What circumstance are you facing that you need to see through God's eyes and boldly trust Him for?

Look around. What can you find in your life to celebrate?
 (Some(thing) Beautiful! J)

Are you living out God's purpose for your life or are you bowing to the wrong audience and listening to the wrong voices?

Today, make the decision to celebrate life and all God has for you.

Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. à God is at work to make your life exactly what He wants it to be.

Read the original post by “Girlfriends in God” here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Baked Cavatelli

This was last weeks "new" meal.  My house was turned into an italian eatery while making this. :)  It was yummy and simple!  I halved the recipe as usual.  I feel the need to add a Disclaimer here, so I shall.

Disclaimer: From this point on, unless stated otherwise, the recipes posted on this blog are prepared using only half the ingredients.  The ingredients of the recipes, as posted, are for the full recipe. 

There, now I don't have to keep telling you everytime that "I halved the recipe." :)

Ingredients: 1 package (12 ounces) italian sausage links, 2 1/2 cups dry cavatelli pasta, 1 26-ounce jar pasta sauce, 1 cup shredded mozzerala cheese, 3/4 cup onion, chopped, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Note: I couldn't find cavatelli pasta so I used rotini, it worked great, any small pasta would probably work.  Also, I used 1 garlic cube in place of the fresh garlic (remember I halved the recipe so use 2 if you are making the full recipe).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Basically just add some water to a sauce pan, bring to a boil, salt, and add pasta, cook until it is done.
While the pasta is cooking.....
Cut up the sausage into small chunks, In a skillet, cook the sausage, onion and garlic for 4-5 minutes.  Drain off any fat. 

In a medium bowl, mix together the sauce, 3/4 of the cheese and the black pepper. 

When the pasta is done cooking, drain, and add to the sauce mixture. 
Add the sausage mixure to the sauce and pasta.  Stir gently to combine.

Spoon the mixture into a baking dish (2 quart for full recipe). 
I used a 10 oz cooking dish for one serving and then divided the remaining mixture into containers to refrigerate for meals for the next few days.  I ended up with about 3 servings.

  Bake, covered, in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until nearly heated through.  Uncover, sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake about 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted. 
Note:  I covered mine with foil and baked for about 15-20 minutes.  Uncovered, added the cheese and baked for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese. 


See a written version of this recipe here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Made Possible In Him......Ephesians

This weeks verses were Ephesians 3:1-13. 
Read the verses here: Ephesians 3:1-13 --

There are so many thoughts going through my head.  I love it when the thoughts are all jumbled and you just start laying them out there and then you re-read what you wrote and think wow, I hope this makes sense to someone besides me, realize it probably doesn't and then have to rearrange it so it does...ha.  Anyways, not just these verses, but really about how everything I have heard the past couple of weeks has pointed me back to God's gift of salvation, his superiority, power and the absolute amazing grace he has for me.....ME! And YOU.  And it is all undeserved.  Just think about that for a minute.  It's seems so fundamental, but it is an amazing truth that I know I don't think about enough.  If I did it would transform my life, I am sure of it. 

From these verses to songs I have heard on the radio, to the sermons in today's morning and evening services.  Everything has just connected together.  "Ok God, I getcha, and THANK YOU upon THANK YOU for loving us all enough to give us the amazing gift of salvation."  So that leaves me with, what do I do or how do I live my life to reflect the gratefulness in my heart?  What does that look like lived out in my life?

I won't bore you with my ramblings (of which could branch out into many many directions).

Back to the verses ----> Here's the major points I pulled out:

1)  vs. 1-3: The task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles was a "special stewardship, trust or commitment" Paul had been given by Christ.  He viewed preaching the gospel as a privilege, as something to be revered and cherished.  Not something that he begrudgingly had to do. 
   - As believers are we all given this special stewardship, trust or commitment?
Yes, I believe we are.  Not all in the same ways, some are called to lead the church as pastors, others are called to do this through serving in various ways and others are doing this in the simplest of tasks.  None the less, we all are stewards of the gospel and no task God has given us is purposeless or futile.

2) vs. 4-6: God planned out how he would reveal the gospel to the Gentiles.  Everything worked together.  Also, the gospel connects us together as one body "sharers together in the promise of Christ". 

3) vs. 7-9: Pauls purpose in life became preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, he was a "servant of the gospel".  This purpose was given to him by God as a gift.  Paul says basically that he was sooooo unworthy of carrying such a task, but God equipped him with everything he needed to be able to fulfill his purpose.  God took care of all the details, Paul just had to be obedient.  Jill's Interpretation: God will equip us with the tools we need to do whatever he is asking us to do, He takes care of the details.  We just have to be obedient and have complete faith that he will do what he says.  Nevermind the feelings of "What are you thinking, I can't do THAT!"  Yes YOU CAN, you have God working through you, making sure it DOES happen! :)

4) vs. 10-11: I think Paul is saying that the purpose for all of this God has prepared and done was so that through the church, which is believers, God's wisdom will be seen by others and he would be glorified.  It is his eternal plan for all believers.  Eternal = not just then, but now and forever!  Made possible in Christ. 

5) vs. 12-13: In Christ, through faith in Christ (salvation) WE (me and you) can approach God through prayer with confidence.  In Christ we are given the confidence and are equipped by Christ with everything we need to share the gospel.

- In him and through faith in him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 

Am I proof that you are who you say you are? That grace can really change a heart. Do I live like your love is true?  When they see me, do they see you?  So that everything I say and do points to you.

Sidewalk Prophets -- Live Like That

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Picante Beef Roast

Last weeks "new recipe".  Alas, the CrockPot came through again! I noticed that all of my recipes so far have mostly been with chicken so I thought I would try some beef.  :) It turned out pretty good but it's probably not one of those that I will make on a regular basis.  Don't get me wrong I liked it, it's just not going on my top 10 list.  Still definitely worth sharing though!

It was a meal of "new" recipes actually.  I also made Cream Cheese Deviled Eggs and Carrot Mashed Potatoes.  Yes, carrot mashed potatoes.  They looked really unique in the picture.  I thought orange mashed potatoes...awesome! That should add some color and well they just looked cool, but they didn't turn out so great.  Might be ok with some tweaking...ha.

Again, I cut the recipe in half and it fit perfectly in my small CrockPot. NOTE: The measurements for the ingredients below are for the full recipe. 

Ingredients: 1 beef rump roast or bottom round roast (3 lbs.), trimmed, 1 jar (16 oz) picante sauce, 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce, 1 envelope taco seasoning, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/4 cup water. 

Note: Before putting the roast into the CrockPot, trim off the fat to avoid having a "greasy" gravy. I got a 3 lb. roast and cut it in half, using one half and freezing the other.  After trimming, place the roast in the CrockPot.

In a bowl, mix together the picante sauce, tomato sauce and taco seasoning.  Pour this mixture over the roast in the CrockPot.

Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until the meat is tender.

After it is done cooking, remove the meat and place on a plate or serving platter. Transfer 3 cups (or 1 and 1/2 if you cut the recipe in half) of the sauce to a small saucepan an bring to a boil.

While sauce is heating, mix together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Slowly stir in the cornstarch mixture to the sauce and bring back to a boil, stirring continuously until the sauce has thickened.  It only takes a couple of minutes for the sauce to thicken. 

Slice the roast and serve with the gravy.  Enjoy!

The written version of this recipe can be found here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Spiral Dish Scrubbie - Tawasi

This is a fun pattern that I found for a spiral dish scrubbie and at the request of my mom am posting it.  :) I guess these are techinically called "Tawasi's", it's Japanese.  I have made several and love them. 
Funny story: I made a few for a lady I work with as a gift and I walked past her office after giving it to her and she had her coffee mug sitting on it, using it as a coaster...ha.  I guess they are multi-purpose. :)  I did eventually explain to her that they were dish scrubbies. 

This one is made with regular worsted weight arcylic yarn.

This one is made with cotton yarn.

I found this pattern at Spiral Scrubbie -- CrochetPatternsOnly.

Materials: Size H Crochet Hook, Worsted Weight Acrylic Yarn or Cotton Yarn

Note: Crochet in the back loop through out to create the ridge.

Row 1: (leaving a length of yarn long enough to weave through & gather one edge and tie off.) Chain 21, 2 sc in second chain from hook, crochet one sc in each chain across to last 2 chains; crochet the last 2 chains together, chain 1 and turn (20 stitches)

Row 2: Sc first 2 stitches together, crochet one sc in each stitch across to last stitch, 2 sc in last stitch, chain 1 and turn (20 stitches)

Row 3: 2 sc in first stitch, crochet one sc in each stitch across to last 2 stitches, sc last 2 stitches together chain 1 and turn (20 stitches).

Repeat rows 2 & 3 for a total of 21 rows.

Cut yarn leaving the second end long enough to weave through & gather one edge then tie off. Slip stitch beginning row and ending row together. Using the end of yarn weave each end in and out of the ends of the rows of the edge it is attached to. Pull them tight. Now pull one yarn end through the scrubbie and tie in a tight knot. Pull both ends back through to the other side and knot again. Simply pull the end to the inside of the scrubbie and back out, making sure to leave a length of tail on the inside.

The sewing together is kind of tricky.  Here is an awesome YouTube video explaining.

- Jill

Saturday, February 11, 2012

No Barriers....Ephesians

This is two weeks wrapped up in one....
Last weeks verses were Ephesians 2:1-10 and this weeks are verses 11-22.

There is soooo much in these verses. So much to expound on again and again.  This is just a start....

Ephesians 2:1-10 --> Paul starts out telling the Ephesians some pretty gloomy news, he is reminding them of who they were outside of Christ.  Dead in their transgressions, following the ways of the world, ruled by Satan, doing whatever they wanted to fulfill their sinful desires and thoughts, just like everyone else they were objects of wrath (refers to those who are to recieve God's wrath because of their rejection of Christ).  How horrible does that sound?  That is who we are apart from Christ, plain and simple..truth.  There is absolutely no hope in following the ways of this world. 
 - It is by grace you have been saved.  (vs. 5)
And theeeen the next verse starts with a "But".  A good "but"! :) A "but" that brings the best news a person could ever want to hear.  "But" because God loves us (yes even you) He made us alive in Christ, no longer dead in our transgressions! Christ gives us a hope, a future.  When we accept Christ, we no longer live under the power of sin, we are a new creation and do not live the same way we did before we accepted Christ.  And all of this is made possible because of Christ.  How humbling, mind-boggling, and just plain awesome! Hard to wrap my head around, that he loves me that much, me, and you and everyone else.  Does my life reflect my gratefulness to God for his gift?  Am I an example to the world of the kindness that Christ has shown to me? When others look at me do they see Him?

(vs. 8-10) We cannot and never will be able to earn our salvation. Salvation is a gift given to us by God because of his love and mercy.  He created us to do the works he prepared for us to bring Him glory.  We are His workmanship, created carefully and thoughtfully, each one of us.  God took great care in creating us, with the purpose of serving and bringing glory to Him in everything we do.  Thank you Lord for creating me carefully and thoughtfully and purposefully.

Ephesians 2:11-22 --> In these verses Paul is telling the Ephesians to not take their salvation for granted. He is reminding them that they too were once without Christ and hope.  How precious is the gift of salvation!  Am I continually thankful for my salvation?  Do I live my life, daily, remembering the gift God has given me?    

Because of Christ death we can have a relationship with Christ and be "brought near to Him".  I can have a relationship with the same God that I read about in the Old Testament and the same God of Paul, Moses, Job, David, etc.  WHAT!? No way! He is the same God and yes, I can have a relationship with him, he does love me, and created me to glorify him.  I have to keep preaching that to myself.  Awesome! 

God has created a "oneness" between all believers.  Regardless of culture, location, social group, language, up-bringing -- we are all linked together in Christ.  Christ broke the barriers between us.  We become one body, children of God, children of one household -- God's household with Christ himself as the head. God is building us into his home, his temple. 
"The kingdom of faith is now your home country. He is using us all, irrespective of how we got here." 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup - CrockPot

I made this soup this weekend, it's sooo good! I love cooking in the CrockPot because it is so easy.  Like everyone else says, you just dump the stuff in, turn it on and forget about it for awhile.  Or get it going in the morning before work and you have supper ready when you get home!  

I cut this recipe in half and used a small 1.5 quart maybe 2 quart CrockPot. The measurements I used are in yellow.  I cooked this overnight.  If you are starting it first thing in the morning it is helpful to lay out all the ingredients you will need the night before on the cabinet (except for the ones that have to be refrigerated of course) and then you just have to dump them in the CrockPot the next morning.  You can chop the onions and drain the beans the night before and just refrigerate in plastic bags or containers for the next morning.  I find this saves on time in the mornings. 

Chicken Tortilla Soup - CrockPot
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, thawed --1 chicken breast
2 cans rotel (lime and cliantro is the best) --1 can rotel
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained -- 1 can black beans
1 can red or kidney beans, rinsed and drained --I omitted these because I used the full can of black beans.
2 cans chicken broth -- 1 can or 12-16 ounces chicken broth
1 can corn -- used about 3/4 cup of frozen corn
1-2 cups water -- 1 to 1 1/2 cups water
1 onion, chopped -- 1/2 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic powder**
1 tablespoon chili powder**
1 tablespoon ground cumin**
1 tablespoon dried cilantro -- used 2 cilantro cubes
** Instead of using these spices, you can use a packet of taco seasoning.  -- used 1/2 package taco seasoning.
tortilla chips
sour cream
shredded chedder cheese

Cut the chicken breast in half or into large chunks.  Mix all of the ingredients except for the chicken breast together in the CrockPot.  Add the chicken breast last and make sure it is covered in the liquid.  Cover and cook for 8-9 hours on LOW or 6-7 hours on high.  About 30 minutes before the cook time is up, remove the chicken and shred (it might just fall apart on its own).  Place back into the CrockPot and continue cooking 30 minutes.  Serve by covering the bottom of a bowl with the tortillas chips, add soup and top with sour cream and shredded cheese.

I found this recipe here.

Note: I'm not sure why some of the text is black.  I didn't do that purposely, I can't figure out how to fix it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Chicken Kiev (aka Chicken Cordon Bleu - ish)

In keeping up with my cooking a new meal every week, here is last weeks.  The recipe is called Chicken Kiev but I made some adjustments so it turned out more like Chicken Cordon Bleu without the ham/prosciutto.  I guess a more technical name would be cheese stuffed chicken breast or something like that, but I am not a recipe creater or namer (obviously). :) This would also be a good meal to make ahead and cook the next day because it has to chill in the frig for 1-24 hours. 

Ingredients: 1 tablespoon chopped green onion, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (I used dry and it worked ok), 1 clove garlic, minced, 1 egg, beaten, 1 tablespoon water, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs, 2-3 skinless chicken breast, salt and black pepper, monterey jack cheese, stick (see note/picture),1 tablespoon butter

Note: Here are the changes I made I only used 1 chicken breast.  It was huge once I pounded it out so I cut the 1 in half to make 2.  The original recipe used a stick of margarine (instead of cheese) cut in half and then cut in half length wise to make a butter stick.  I used monterey jack cheese and did the same concept.  I am assuming the butter is what made it the ""Kiev".  See the picture below for a better description.  I had quite a bit of flour and bread crumbs left over so if you are only using 1-2 chicken breast you can cut back on the measurements of those two ingredients a little bit. 
--->Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
--->Mix together the chopped green onion, parsley (if using fresh) and garlic. Set aside.  Note: I used the "garlic cubes" for the garlic.
--->In a bowl mix the egg and 1 tablespoon water.  Put the flour in another bowl. And yet in another bowl (I know alot of dishes) place the bread crumbs.  Set aside.
--->Place the chicken breast in between two pieces of plastic wrap. I just used one big sheet and folded it over.  Pound chicken until it is about 1/4 inch thick. 

--->Remove from the plastic wrap.  This is where I cut the 1 chicken breast in half to make 2.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Divide the green onion/garlic/parsley mixture between the chicken breast.
---> Place a stick of the cheese in the center of each chicken piece. Fold in the side edges and roll from the bottom to the top.
--->Coat the chicken first in the egg mixture, then the flour mixture, then the bread crumbs.  For a thicker coating after coating once, re-coat with the egg mixture and the bread crumbs.  Note:  Make sure you coat the ends well to help keep the cheese from making an escape. :)

--->Place in a baking dish, cover and refrigerate for 1-24 hours. (1 hour minimum) I left mine in overnight and cooked them the next day. 

--->When you are ready to cook the chicken, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet, add the chicken rolls to the skillet.  Cook about 5 minutes or until golden brown.  Turn the chicken every few minutes to brown all sides. 
--->Remove from skillet and place back into the backing dish.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.  They should come out looking like this.  Apparently I didn't coat the ends of that one very well and the cheese escaped.

Note: It might be helpful to wait a few minutes before cutting into the chicken so that the cheese doesn't run out all at once.  I was too excited and cut right into it.  Hence, the cheese running out. 

You can find a written version of this recipe here.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Recently I have been constantly listening to solo piano music on Pandora.  I'm not sure why, I have never listened to it this much before, but I'm developing a liking to it. :)  There are some amazingly talented people out there! Kudos to those of you who are gifted in the ability to play the piano.  The eye - hand coordination is something I never was able to acquire. I am so thankful that God gave us the gift of music.  I'm no music critiquer (is that a word?) by any means but there is just something to the simplicity of it. So beautiful!

David Nevue - Solitude

Look David Nevue up on YouTube.  I have yet to find a song I don't like! (He's got a lot of good ones, Be Thou My Vision, Treasure Falls and Amazing Grace are amazing!) :)